The importance of energy management in buildings

“We spend more than 90% of our lives”Between four walls“It is only for this fact that we should be very attentive to the comfort and health of our possessions. But it is also original”“Active predators”. At least for now.

These ideas are increasingly being repeated in this sector. The “near zero” energy trend (or EECN, as it is often called by its abbreviation). But what exactly is EECN?

EECN: definition and characteristics

These are characteristics that meet two basic principles:

  • Its energy efficiency level is very high
  • The limited energy it needs comes to a very large extent from renewable energy sources, whether produced on site or in the surrounding areas. (Thus defined by Royal Decree No. 235/2013)

The real estate sector, the key to the energy transition

The real estate sector is a key component of the energy transition, which should lead us to a low-carbon economy. Three basic aspects are usually identified that buildings must bear when necessary:

  • Carbon removal: By controlling energy demand, reducing consumption, and using renewable energy sources along with electric mobility.
  • Decentralization: understood as on-site electricity generation plus energy storage.
  • Digitization: Which must allow for control and automation. Increasingly existing IoT technologies that enjoy economies of scale that were unimaginable just a few years ago are key here.

Not only do these goals represent a challenge for new construction, but existing stock must also be retrofitted to mitigate climate change. This is often overlooked, and adaptation to climate change itself. We have moved from a traditionally static environment to a dynamic environment where properties must integrate with their environment. It is therefore necessary to update the new Civil Construction Code, and it is also necessary for various government bodies to implement policies to encourage the achievement of the set goals. In fact, this is a frequent request from various players in this sector.

Move from the concept of ownership to the concept of service

In addition, voices are also emerging that influence something familiar to us in ICT, moving from the concept of ownership to the concept of service. We are no longer talking about tenants, but about customers who demand a certain comfort and quality in the space in which they live. In this regard, three main axes can be identified with their corresponding indicators:

  • Environmental behavior: Energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources and maintenance.
  • Comfort and health: Accessibility, comfort and energy poverty.
  • Comprehensive and advanced service: Energy management, digitization and its impact on the user.

All these principles apply to residential construction but also to tertiary construction; Many new corporate headquarters include in their initial design the requirements necessary to be considered EECN. On a technical level, this means not exceeding certain limits in the demand for cooling and heating, as well as in the primary energy consumed and waterproofing of the property. How to achieve these stringent requirements?

There are several basic principles that must be adhered to: Increasingly better insulation, absence of thermal bridges, air sealing, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, high-performance windows and the use of new technologies. This last point is essential to ensure that the EECN is not just an EECN on paper, but in its daily use it meets or improves the required standards by measuring all consumption and comfort parameters in real time.

Why limit ourselves to EECNs

Why limit ourselves to EECN? Why don’t we talk about ZEB (Zero Energy Buildings)? Or even PED (Positive Energy Zones). Given the large room for improvement in energy management in buildings, there are currently real projects where a new challenge is being tested approaching our cities. Buildings that not only absorb from the electrical grid, but also pump excess energy into it, and exchange energy in cities, all at an optimal cost.

There is no doubt that the technical challenge, especially one of the new relationship and business models, is moving from one consumer schema to another. Pro-consumer. There will always be buildings that need additional energy, but in the grand total there are many surpluses, for example all the solar energy that can be produced in residential environments in the middle of the day, only when their residents are outside their homes, often in offices or tertiary properties. These surpluses can be used to recharge electric cars or be exchanged between properties.

It is clear that this dialogue between energies will be essential, without forgetting of course that, as is the case in ICT, where the customer is at the center and will demand the best possible service.

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