The real estate sector is facing major challenges. In a context of a weakening economic environment, the sector is under increasing pressure to improve the energy performance of new constructions and existing properties. There is no shortage of ideas and systems for digital transformation of the built environment, but there is a jungle of solutions that are unfortunately not interoperable.
As leading companies in our respective fields – lighting and indoor climate – we see significant opportunities to drive a paradigm shift towards a more holistic approach within the sector. Today, heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting account for 60% of the energy consumed in buildings. Through digital and interactive installations, we can help achieve significant savings and truly improve sustainability performance. We believe that if more of us work together on open solutions, we can achieve even more.
System vendors today have a silo mentality that prevents different systems from benefiting from each other. This results in higher energy consumption than necessary. Take the ceiling of a conference room for example: the few sensors there control lighting, heating, ventilation and other systems. There is a sensor for each system while they often measure and monitor the same type of values such as occupancy.
The integration of a connected lighting and ventilation system provides many advantages. A granular network of sensors is created using a lighting system in which each luminaire is connected and equipped with a motion sensor and a light sensor. Used correctly, this infrastructure can create a healthier and more productive environment. For example, ventilation and lighting can be adjusted based on space utilisation and available daylight, as well as day-night rhythm. In addition to allowing owners to optimise energy efficiency based on actual usage, the system allows visualisation of the frequency, schedules and number of people using the building.
We propose the following actions to achieve further energy savings and improve sustainable development performance:
Require suppliers to offer open systems - Instead of using individual labels and designations as part of an integration, ensure that you introduce an “industry” standard that allows easy integration with other systems. We believe the best open standard for communication is RealEstateCore. It is based on Open Source and has already gained popularity among several players, giving it an edge to establish itself among manufacturers and owners.
Reduce the number of sensors in buildings - It is possible to reduce the number of sensors by integrating multiple systems. It also makes installation and maintenance easier, and reduces the building's carbon footprint through a lower percentage of embodied carbon emissions.
Using digital technologies to predict the future – Dynamic learning systems and artificial intelligence offer enormous opportunities to leverage building data accumulated over time. Building airflow and cooling systems, for example, can be optimised by controlling the temperature of rooms exposed to the sun or reducing the temperature of a conference room before it fills up. This improves indoor comfort and reduces the building's energy consumption.
We need better dialogue and closer collaboration between system providers. Swegon and Fagerhult Group have taken a first step by entering into close collaboration in the development of solutions. We are convinced that if more of us collaborate, we can find many more opportunities than those already mentioned here, by sharing innovative approaches and solutions and agreeing on a common standard.