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The BACS decree: good is not going to be enough

It is September 2023, less than two years remain until the middle of 2025 – a significant checkpoint for numerous countries, regions and organisations in their pursuit to reach various sustainability targets. Beyond this year, countless check points for both completed actions as well as progressively ambitious goals can be listed. This blog post will make a visit in France and highlight a national framework, based on an EU legislation, that will require open mindedness and innovative approach to ventilation, heating and cooling (HVAC) to meet challenging energy reduction targets.

 Three years ago, a French legal framework called Building automation and control systems (BACS) decree was introduced as a result of the EU guidelines for the transposition of the new Energy performance buildings directive. The decree initially focused on non-residential buildings, but in April of this year, the decree was reinforced. The aim of the decree is to increase buildings’ eco efficiency by significantly reduce the energy consumption. The decree outlines specific requirements for 2027 or 2025*, and three gradually increasing objectives for increased energy savings, from 40% to 60%, by 2050. Knowing this, and with a bit of experience of the HVAC industry, it is more or less obvious that good is not going to be enough.

Make sure the individual products perform at their very best
The BACS decree primarily points at the HVAC solutions and to achieve these goals it will be crucial to monitor and analyse data of the current energy consumption. Only by doing so can individual products be optimised, installation errors corrected, and each unit finetuned to energy efficiently meet the actual needs in a building.

No matter how advanced individual products for ventilation, heating and cooling are, if they do not function as intended or lack integration with other units in the system, there will be no energy reduction. Studies have proven that faulty installations and commissioning can result in up to 30% unnecessary energy use. An initial step is therefore to make sure everything works as intended.

Thereafter, predictive control and maintenance will be key to be able to cut significant amounts of energy.

Indoor environment sensors and energy efficiency
goes together
The targets of the BACS decree is clear and challenging, and it is well known that the HVAC industry, and also an endless digital market, has numerous alternatives for advanced monitoring and analysis of buildings and indoor climate. Systems for demand controlled indoor climates are predicted to be the only reasonable means to deliver on set goals.

To perhaps state the obvious, indoor environment sensors will be key in this as they measure temperature, humidity, CO2 and more inside the building. Consider “The Edge” in Amsterdam that boast over 30,000 connected sensors. An impressive number that should be put in the light of the fact that the building is the greenest commercial building in Europe as it scored 98,36% on the ecological sustainability parameters of its BREEAM certification.

Digital services and demand controlled ventilation
Within the realm of building automation and control, there are already a number of alternatives on the market and generally the more predictive control, the greater the investment. However, the more predictive control, the greater the financial gains. Swegon offers services for the above under the umbrella of Swegon INSIDE as well as room management systems called Swegon REACT and Swegon WISE.

Swegon INSIDE comprises a set of services that allows for collection, analysis and visualisation of building related data. It factors in outdoor parameters and include AI-driven information to make advanced predictions, up to nine days in advance. These services identify irregularities, or presumed issues, that can cause the indoor climate to fail on various parameters and the energy consumption to hit the roof. They also provide recommendations for adjustments which can reduce the energy consumption further which is welcomed within the scope of the BACS decree.

Swegon WISE and Swegon REACT enable demand controlled ventilation, indoor climate that is adjusted and answer to the needs inside the building. An approach that significantly reduces the energy consumption. The two mentioned systems have slightly different characteristics but both contribute to an automated and energy efficient indoor climate, fully in line with the BACS decree in France.

A cost is inevitable
The Building automation and control systems (BACS) decree indirectly says that good is not going to be enough. The systems above are far developed and in the forefront of what room/building management systems deliver today. With that, questions in regards to the investment may have arisen and our Swegon WISE will serve as an example to explain.

Indeed, to achieve the energy reduction levels in the BACS decree, a cost is inevitable. Especially when this task is tackled correctly, and the indoor climate requirements are as highly prioritised as the energy savings. Swegon WISE delivers on both indoor climate and energy efficiency and has further investment advantages in its wireless design. The latter simplifies installation, maintenance and troubleshooting, saves valuable time and resources. In larger projects, time can be saved by not having the issue of fitting and connecting running meters of cables, and by minimising the risk of time-consuming back-tracing for bad connections. In any project, maintenance that can be concentrated to where it is actually needed saves time, and anyone who has bumped into a problem knows that time is spared if errors are found quickly.

Time is always money, and our experience tells us that the greater the number of products, such as sensors, the lower the initial cost per unit. In fact, our estimate calculation in France tells us that from 50 products (sensors included) and upwards, the cost per unit is to the benefit of wireless.

Flexibility is yet another advantage of wireless systems. Additions and upgrades are readily done with Swegon WISE, but Swegon REACT has to be mentioned in this as well. The latter is an adaptable solution that ensure the indoor climate in each room. It is developed for projects with requirements on the indoor environment and energy efficiency, but where the requirements must be balanced against the investment cost.

What has been outlined?
In summary, it will be challenging to meet the Building automation and control systems (BACS) decree, good is not going to be enough. The importance of precise installations and maintenance can very well be emphasised again, but digital services, building automation and control systems will be key to reduce the energy consumption and meet the decree’s targets. The services and systems offered from us, Swegon INSIDE, Swegon WISE and REACT, are at the forefront of building related solutions, making a significant difference to energy consumption for ventilation, heating and cooling, and will hence deliver beyond good.

See also our energy efficiency guide for more insights and recommendations.

* In non-residential buildings (existing and new), by 2027 (for installations with a rated output of between 70 and 290 kW) or 2025 (for installations with a rated output of more than 290 kW). The use of a system with a variable air flow rate or based on actual demand will become the norm, enabling significant energy savings. Indeed, the Directive stipulates 2 major elements: the obligation to install a class B control and BMS systems and the obligation to install room-by-room control (intelligent terminal control) in all new buildings. Different classes were identified:

Class D (manual operation, no regulation),
Class C (reference, simple regulation),
Class B (regulation with communication between energy consumers and producers)
Class A (global optimization).

For commercial building, they will need to move for X class to a B or A class.