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How to save energy in buildings?

This question seems to be answered quite simple: you can save energy in buildings by means of automation. I want to share with you my 15 years of experience in implementing energy saving solutions in buildings. Looking ahead, I will say that with the help of automated lighting control in a building, we can save more than 70% of its annual electricity consumption of the lighting system. In fact, this article is addressed to investors (developers) and all those who build real estate in order to own it. I want to explain them, in simple terms, why & when saving energy is profitable for them, and only then show them how to save.

Take a look at our way of life. We are surrounded by a comfort. Everywhere. Of course, I mean the buildings in which we live or work. But you can draw an analogy with a vehicle. In modern cars, the headlights turn on automatically when it is dark, the rain sensor will take care of cleaning the windshield from drops at the right time, a comfortable climate is maintained according to the preferable settings, plus various electronic assistants for driver safety. Looks like a "smart home" on wheels? In modern buildings, everything is exactly the same. And to maintain all this comfort, energy must be spent, which can be controlled and saved by automation. By this I am leading to the fact that humanity has long been using modern automation solutions and it is simply unreasonable to refuse it today.

A bit of history. When I started doing energy saving projects in 2008, I had to deal with building owners or developers, because the Russian market was pretty immature at that moment. At that moment they looked at me like I was a city madman when I suggested to use presence and motion detectors for automatic lighting control. The main question of an owner of the building was: "Why?" Electricity costs so little that there is no point in saving it. Then 1 kWh of electricity consumed for organizations in Russia cost 0.06 EUR (today it is already 0.11 EUR). The point is that the price of electricity will never be cheaper anywhere in the world. It will only go up in price.

Another difficulty is that the investor during the construction phase of the building thinks mainly about CAPEX and rarely considers OPEX. Installing automation in a building after its commissioning will be two times more expensive and will not give the same effect as if implementing similar solutions at the design stage. When is it not profitable for an investor to use energy saving solutions? When an object is built for resale and not for the own use. When there are no strict requirements for compliance with energy efficiency standards in buildings. In these cases, only one thing can be said: it is not our client!

Let's look at an abstract modern office building. On which needs all the energy is spending in it? HVAC, lighting, elevators and escalators, and various office equipment. According to data from ASHRAE and the US Department of Energy (DOE), lighting in modern commercial properties accounts for about 33% of a building's total energy consumption. Do you remember how modern office building looks like? Almost all of them have a huge glass faced area. It means that in such facilities we can use the most of natural light, reducing the load on the artificial lighting system. At the same time, the comfortable light value in the workplace for people will always be maintained. Energy will be saved: where there are no people or there is no need for the artificial lighting. So, out of 1/3 of all the energy that a modern office building consumes, we can save more than 70% - simply by using presence and motion sensors.

It may be objected to me that all modern lighting systems are LEDs, which are already Efficient. It's true, LED lights do have low consumption. But what is the main problem with LED? Make the right heat removal. While the LED lighting is on, the LEDs generate heat that needs to be removed. There is such a thing - “LED aging”, when the luminous flux from lamps decreases over time. By turning off LED lights with the help of motion and presence sensors, we reduce the effect of aging and prolong their life. In fact, this is also the building owner's money, which can be counted together with direct energy savings. And if the lamps are dimmable, then in this way the service life of their drivers (ballasts) is extended.

All administrative buildings have offices, corridors, stairs, toilets, technical rooms, parking. For each type of such premises, the special solutions for automatic lighting control have been developed, which allow us to get the maximum effect on energy saving. If it is planned that a building project must be certified according to "green" standards (LEED, BREEAM, DGNB, WELL), then the use of automatic control systems for lighting and HVAC is simply a MUST HAVE condition, without which it will be impossible to get a high rating.

You may ask, why I say that more than 70% of annual consumption can be saved in office or administrative buildings? This is indicated by the numbers from my German colleagues and, in addition, I conducted my own real experiments on energy saving, which I want to talk about below.
In 2011, we met with the chief electric engineer of the telecommunications provider MTS. He suggested that we conduct an experiment, when two identical floors were selected in their building, on which everything was the same: the layout of the premises, the arranged furniture, the working hours of the employees and the lighting fixtures. Everything was the same.

On one floor, we turned off all electrical wall switches and installed presence and motion sensors from ESYLUX. Thus, the lighting on this floor was controlled fully automatically (according to the presence of people and light value from windows). No sensors were installed on the other floor, and lighting control was only in manual mode from the existing wall switches. On both floors, the lighting systems were connected to independent electricity meters.

The experiment lasted about 5 months. Every day, MTS employees took meter numbers from both floors. The result of the experiment was summarized by MTS chief electrical engineer: the lighting system on the floor, where ESYLUX presence and motion sensors were installed, consumed 75% less energy.

We carried out another similar experiment on the territory of the Russian Railways warehouse. Here the savings were reached to more than 80%. Of course, each individual building has its own characteristics that will affect the result. But I think that no one will dispute the fact that the use of an automation lighting control system has a significant impact on energy saving in general.
Where else the automatic lighting control is highly demanded?
Hotels. Do you remember what the corridors of the hotel look like? This is a long premise, in which, most likely, there are no windows, but only doors. And the lighting must be on all the time, as hotel guests could arrive at any time.

Warehouse complexes with high ceilings. Large warehouses, where lighting fixtures are located at a height of 10-12 m from the floor level. Such projects have the greatest potential for saving energy in lighting, but their implementation must be approached carefully, since the location of presence sensors at high altitudes has a number of nuances.

Large infrastructure facilities: airports, stadiums, railway stations. All such buildings have a large number of rooms where people stay for a short part of the working time, and the lighting can remain on for a long time. This means that there is significant potential for energy savings.
If you take a look at the vector of development of the German manufacturer ESYLUX GmbH, you can see that the emphasis in the developed solutions is on increasing energy efficiency and improving the quality of people's life in every workplace. And, as priority facilities, offices, healthcare and education buildings have been selected.

Let's say that you are faced with the task of controlling not only lighting, but also heating, ventilation, air conditioning, blinds or audio-video. Then the solution based on the open KNX protocol will be the best choice. In this case, open technology will allow you to combine equipment from different manufacturers, and it will be fully compatible.

Over the past 15 years, we have come across a lot of situations where it was necessary to implement lighting control. It will be extremely difficult to surprise us with something new. We are ready to offer you our experience together with the German quality of equipment to implement energy saving solutions at your facilities. Just give us a chance! 

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