The ongoing debate on energy sufficiency and the rising price of energy has led many to develop quick solutions that range from working nighttime to centralised calculation of temperatures. The situation is untenable for many, but I still call for a broader public debate.
It is perfectly understandable that public debate revolves around quick solutions. However, there is now also a need for a broader debate on how to make a real change in the energy consumption of the Finnish building stock that will last far into the future.
Only a real change will help Finland in attaining fast enough the targeted carbon emissions, of which 40% will be generated during the life cycle of buildings. Only a real change will help to extend the productive life cycle of properties as expected in Finland’s challenging climate conditions.
Global crises have created an opportune time for renewal in the past as well. I believe that this will also be the case in the construction sector, where there has been talk of smart buildings for a long time, but many are only planning solutions that have a sustainable impact on energy consumption.
Technology is on a more advanced level than what is commonly known
Those responsible for properties have many ways at their disposal to prepare for the rising price of energy and for the uncertainty in availability by reducing the life-cycle energy consumption of properties. One of the most important of these is the smart building automation system. More and more are in fact investing in building automation renovations right now, like the City of Vantaa in Finland.
While the talk about smart buildings has been on the surface, solutions have evolved to the point where they are already available to nearly everyone. There is already an ecosystem to which buildings can be connected, not only for gathering data, but also for analysing it. The best thing is that these solutions, which are often based on cloud technology, also provide the possibility to utilise data that affects the property but does not arise from it. By this I mean data on, for example, variations in weather conditions and in the price of energy.
The latest solutions adjust the property automatically based on the data they have gathered and provide both the necessary history data and a forecast for the future. Through their openness and connectivity, they also make it possible for the property owner not to commit to just one automation partner.
Indeed, it is the combination of data provided by several operators that yields the best results, because the property can then be managed as an aggregated whole. This helps to avoid situations that are familiar to many where a property is heated in one place while cooled in another. The property owner also becomes the owner of valuable data, and the maintenance personnel no longer need to be asked to drive on-site from hundreds of kilometres away.
The best solution is created by adjusting energy consumption and the prevailing conditions together
In caricatured terms, it is easy to save energy by shutting down the equipment that consumes it, but this can risk the well-being of both people and properties. A property is always a complex whole, and the inherent potential of the automation that controls the property stems precisely from this – a comprehensive solution can adjust the operation of the property according to its use, ensuring that the conditions do not cause damage to people or the property itself, even in the long term.
Optimisation between energy savings and the prevailing conditions is essential. Energy cannot be saved at the expense of the property or people’s health. Also, the ability to manage a property in the long term based on verified data is essential as well. This is possible with the help of smart building automation, as it enables both data gathering and control of the property based on the accumulated data. Identifying and anticipating problems and deviations helps to optimise the operation of the property and see where exactly in the property energy is consumed. If this is not known, it will be difficult to make rational, energy-saving decisions.
The data gathered from the property and put to good use is purely money. The ability to take the right actions at the right time and in the right place instead of merely doing repairs saves energy, reduces maintenance costs, and reduces complaints.
Building automation is crucial for attaining savings in the life-cycle costs and energy consumption of a property. Now, more than ever, is the time to explore its potential in the property section.