How to transform existing buildings into sustainable and energy efficient structures

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The building industry is experiencing unprecedented disruption due to various trends, including the pandemic, ongoing technological transformation, market pressures, and changing occupant expectations and needs.

Yet discussions continue to focus on what the building of tomorrow will look like instead of examining how current innovations such as IoT and next-generation building management systems (BMS) can create sustainable and customer-centric within existing structures.

BMS at work

South African businesses and individuals continue to be affected by the volatility of the country’s electricity grid and supply, and higher education institutions are no exception. To this end, a local university, faced with the realities of load shedding and its impact on the quality of education, decided to negotiate with the municipality to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Prerequisite of the municipality: the university had to guarantee that it could drastically reduce its electricity consumption with two hours’ notice for the duration of the load shedding period.

The university got to work and implemented a sophisticated BMS system capable of evaluating its energy consumption. The system found that by running the HVAC system across the campus, the university would be able to meet the requirements of the municipality.

Using smart sensor technology, the BMS system determined that by turning off HVAC systems in allocated areas 45 minutes at a time, it would be able to significantly reduce energy consumption.

This 45-minute window is short enough not to have a drastic impact on the temperature of the space, which means that just when students and teachers start to feel some discomfort, the HVAC system is on again. activated.

The hospitality industry has been badly hit by the pandemic and coupled with the realities of escalating electricity costs, an office building in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal has decided to find a solution to its exorbitant energy consumption.

One of the major contributors to the office building’s energy consumption was its HVAC system which was to ensure that the building remained cool and comfortable during the hot and humid summer months. Steps had already been taken to support HVAC systems by making ice at night and running it through an ice-making system.

Unfortunately, due to the heat of the early morning sunrise over the ocean, the ice supply ran out by noon and the HVAC system had to take over during peak hours of the day.

Using a BMS system, the office building found that by using HVAC strategically, they could save on costs and energy. It was found that by turning on the HVAC system earlier (between 4 and 5 a.m.) and gradually cooling the office building during off-peak hours, the ice maker could be used during the peak day, saving thus energy and costs.

building automation

The examples mentioned above clearly show the importance of BMS in saving costs and energy. To go further, the automation of BMS makes it possible to optimize buildings. For example, built-in occupancy sensors can detect if a room is occupied and adjust heat, ventilation and lighting accordingly.

The integration of HVAC, lighting and reservation systems also offers opportunities to reduce energy consumption. It can be as simple as automatically heating conference rooms 10 minutes before meetings, extending the life of equipment and reducing energy consumption.

In addition, the latest Guest Room Management Systems (GRMS) seamlessly integrate with Property Management Systems (PMS) and BMS. When a guest arrives, front desk staff can remotely switch the room from energy-saving mode to the guest’s preferred temperature.

In addition, through an integrated and automated BMS and PMS system, staff have access to the do not disturb (DND) and make-up (MUR) status of the rooms. The lights turn on automatically when housekeepers enter the room (to clean) and switch back to energy saving when they leave. Likewise, HVAC and lights will turn on and off as guests enter or leave rooms.

The above has resulted in nearly 40% savings on energy bills in hotels across Africa as energy usage is optimized based on guest occupancy.

Schneider-Electric Buildings of the future The philosophy behind our EcoStruxure Buildings architecture strives to help owners and managers get the most out of current resources and systems. We aim for future-proof properties with solutions that are open, digitally connected and adaptable to future needs.



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