The rising demand for urban development has caused a rapid sprouting of cities and megacities around the world, and by 2030 the UN predicts that cities will house two-thirds of the world’s population.
As one might anticipate, these cities will become some of the largest producers of greenhouse gases, along with derived material waste. This not only results in negative environmental impacts, but also stifles economic and human productivity through reduced communal well-being.
Over the past decade, technology’s limitless capabilities has brought about various strategies to help solve these issues, with a number of impressive innovations emerging targeted at green building and sustainability. These green technologies equip various facets of a building’s life-cycle with structures and processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient, from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.
In a few years every government in the world will likely enforce a green standard for city buildings, and so to help your business stay ahead of the curve I’ve listed a few available tech and software implementations to adopt that can help your business become more environmentally responsible and achieve green status:
Building Management Systems (BMS)
BMS’ are computer-based control systems, consisting of both software and hardware, which are installed in buildings to monitor mechanical and electrical equipment. Systems such as lighting, power, cooling, heating, fire, security and ventilation can be centrally controlled and automatically adjusted to their optimum levels. Data on each sub-system is collected and reported on, and then used to detect anomalies which companies can use to diagnose inefficiencies to eradicate or improve on.
A great example of where this technology is used effectively is in a building found in Amsterdam, known as “The Edge”. This building has 30 000 sensors which connect to a smartphone app. This app collects information from the office environment, adjusting lighting and temperature according to the number of people occupying the space.
A number of businesses have taken it a step further and applied thermal comfort technologies in their buildings, which connect to and control thermostats, humidistats, mechanised blinds and lighting. Some technologies allow employees to set the levels of these systems to their individual preferences, thus boosting their productivity through improved comfort. The efficiencies gained are indeed notable and good automation of these systems has been proved to generate a 5-15% higher rate of energy saving.
Smart Energy Technologies
Smart energy technologies are probably the most widely explored and implemented, to the extent where a zero net energy consumption has been achieved by many businesses. This means a building can produce as much energy as it consumes. Many building management systems are used as a means for this such as smart HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Another example is DALI (digital addressable lighting interface), a network-based system that controls lighting.
More individual and specific technologies include solar-panels situated on the roofs and sides of buildings, and in more modern cases, you can find whole buildings constructed as one massive surface solar-panel, where office windows have been designed with the ability to capture solar energy. Other examples include instances where solar panels are made by printing electronic ink onto plastic sheets, occupancy sensors, daylight sensors and thermal energy storage (e.g. cooling processes at night to reduce peak energy demand).
Smart Water Technologies
We all know the importance of water and the threatening reality of it quickly becoming a scarce resource. Disappointingly, even with this knowledge, many countries still use drinkable water to flush toilets, clean cars and water gardens, further depleting this much-needed resource. There are many physical installations that can help save water in a building; water harvesting tanks, flush sensors and Lilydomes, just to name a few.
On a more systemic level, smart water technologies, similar to energy technologies, collect information on water usage and flows throughout a building. This information is then used to manage the use of water in the most valuable way, as well as detect leakages and help save significant costs. With water scarcity on the rise, it will come as no surprise if in the near future we see smart water technologies implemented on a city-wide scale and become a standard requirement for every building.
A South African example of a building which has implemented smart water technology is the ‘Estuaries Plaza’ in Century City, Cape Town. With the installation of various water fittings and fixtures both inside and outside the building, it has managed to reach net zero status and convert waste water into a state more purified than bottled water, joining the company of other leaders in smart water management around the world.
It’s clear that technology is undoubtedly one of the main forces helping buildings reach green status by reducing their environmental footprints, cutting costs and enhancing the health and productivity of those working within its four walls.
At Sovtech we help build software that improves the effectiveness and efficiency of building systems, tracks and collates relevant data and automates reporting services to help businesses optimise their building operations. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your building reach green status through the use of smart technologies, GET IN TOUCH, we’d love to innovate with you.
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