Buildings: responsible for high energy consumption
Optimizing energy efficiency in buildings is essential to reduce energy consumption and minimize environmental impact. This article explores effective strategies to achieve energy efficiency in buildings.
‘Buildings are a central part of our daily lives, and we spend a large part of our days in them- at home, at work, or during our spare time. In its different forms – homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals, libraries, or other public buildings – the built environment is, however, the single largest energy consumer in the EU. And one of the largest carbon dioxide emitters. Collectively, buildings in the EU are responsible for 40% of our energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, which mainly stem from construction, usage, renovation, and demolition.’ (1)
‘By 2040, total energy consumption in the world is expected to increase by about 40% and, despite developments in the field of alternative energy sources, fossil fuels are expected to continue to account for more than 75% of the energy used, which means that CO2 emissions will continue to increase. Although new energy-efficient buildings can be built, existing builds will continue to account for most of the energy consumption making it extremely important to improve the energy efficiency of these properties.’ (2)
Buildings account for a significant portion of all energy use, having a considerable role in global energy consumption. Finding solutions to reduce the energy consumption of buildings has become a top priority as our society recognizes the value of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. We can improve energy efficiency and lessen the environmental effect of our buildings by putting various techniques and technology into use.
How to Improve the Energy Efficiency in the Buildings?
Initiating an energy diagnosis is the crucial first step in reducing building energy use. This involves monitoring energy consumption across various building functions, including lighting, ventilation, heating, and air conditioning. Collecting data on energy consumption patterns and inefficiencies aids in identifying areas for improvement.
Unlocking industrial sustainability and energy efficiency access on accurate and relevant data. Organizations can enhance their energy footprint by embracing transparency and accessing energy-related information. Collaborative efforts across the value chain promote energy-efficient decisions that consider a product’s entire lifecycle, optimize energy use within facilities, and ultimately reduce emissions. Industries can create a more sustainable and energy-efficient future by utilizing the power of data.
Here are three effective strategies to increase energy efficiency in buildings:
- Reducing Heating and Ventilation Needs: Minimizing dependence on heating and ventilation systems is a key energy efficiency strategy. Proper insulation and sealing of the building envelope prevent hot or cold air from escaping, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling. Passive design strategies, such as maximizing natural daylight and ventilation, further reduce the demand for artificial heating and ventilation.
- Optimizing Lighting: Improving the building’s lighting system is another effective method to enhance energy efficiency. Replacing traditional incandescent lights with energy-saving alternatives like LED or CFL bulbs can significantly reduce energy consumption. Additionally, sensors and automatic lighting controls ensure that lights are only active when necessary, minimizing energy waste.
- Embracing Smart Technology: Incorporating smart technology solutions can significantly boost a building’s energy efficiency. Smart thermostats intelligently control heating and cooling based on occupancy and schedules, optimizing comfort while minimizing energy use. Building automation and control systems continuously monitor and adjust energy usage, maximizing efficiency by using resources only when required.
Building owners and managers can start putting measures in place to improve energy performance once they have an energy diagnosis in hand. This will lead to long-term energy savings, lower utility costs, and a more sustainable environment.
The benefits of monitoring carry over into the future
One breakthrough in reducing energy consumption is the integration of renewable energy sources in building design and operation. Solar panels on rooftops can generate clean electricity to power various building services. Depending on feasibility, geothermal systems or wind turbines can also provide sustainable energy sources.
‘Energy efficient buildings are buildings which are designed to provide a significant reduction of the energy need for heating; Lighting and cooling through improved building design and construction. Buildings which are designed and constructed today, contributes to serious environmental and economic problems due to excessive consumption of energy and other natural resources. They have a significant share in total energy consumed globally.’ (3).
In conclusion, efforts to reduce energy consumption in buildings are paramount for achieving energy efficiency and sustainability. By conducting energy diagnoses, investing in energy-efficient technologies, optimizing building operations through automation and control systems, improving insulation, incorporating renewable energy sources, educating occupants, and implementing energy management systems, we can significantly lower energy consumption and reduce the environmental impact of buildings.
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- Energy efficiency in buildings. European Commission. (2020, February 17). https://commission.europa.eu/news/focus-energy-efficiency-buildings-2020-02-17_en
- Natividade, J.; Cruz, C.O.; Silva, C.M. Improving the Efficiency of Energy Consumption in Buildings: Simulation of Alternative EnPC Models. Sustainability 2022, 14, 4228. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074228
- M. Renuka, C.M. Maharani, S. Nagasudha, R. Raveena Priya, Optimization of energy consumption based on orientation and location of the building, Materials Today: Proceedings, Volume 65, Part 2, 2022, Pages 527-536, ISSN 2214-7853. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matpr.2022.03.081