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Why the future of the building industry is circular

Reza Alaghehband (1)We know the statistic that the built environment is responsible for 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, writes Reza Alaghehband of Envio Systems. But did you know that during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 7% decrease in global CO2 emissions when compared to 2019? The largest drop in carbon emissions at 12% was the United States followed closely by the European Union at 11%.

These drops feel good to hear but they’re just a short-term reprieve from our normal routines. We need to try to keep these numbers down in a proactive way with long-term strategy to truly commit to sustainability. The desire to keep these promises are shown in the Paris Climate Agreement signed by many countries worldwide in 2016. The good news is that if the 127 nations that pledged can successfully reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, global warming would be only 2.1 degrees (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit) instead of the previously projected 3.6 degrees Celsius (6.5 degrees Fahrenheit).

Because buildings are a large contributor to greenhouse gas, building owners and operators are feeling increasing pressure to drastically improve their energy usage and efficiency as well as prioritisation of general sustainability practices.

Building operators have focused on energy efficiency as a way to cut costs while also keeping an eye on occupant comfort, productivity and overall experience within buildings. Technology solutions to make this goal possible are readily available to help meet sustainability and energy goals. Energy efficient solutions are more sustainable and will provide valuable data and participation towards meeting high goals like the Paris Climate Agreement or attaining building certification like LEED, FITWEL, and others.

An essential step in creating more sustainable and energy efficient buildings on the way to becoming net-zero is being able to monitor and manage multiple building systems. Many building systems still operate in silos, making it difficult if not impossible for building operators to see real time data and analyse how it’s working with other systems. There is technology out there that can give you a true 360-degree view of your building with real time data, like Envio, which integrates with many systems from HVAC, water, gas, lighting and WiFi.

No one expected the pandemic to hit last year but it proved that building operators need to be flexible and ready for whatever comes next. Remote access to buildings or portfolios will not be going anywhere; the benefits are much too important for both operators and occupants. However, truly sustainable solutions need to be ready for changes too.

Not too long ago, occupancy and density data was a nice option to have and handy for reserving a quiet space of a conference room. Now, this type of information is necessary for following social distancing recommendations and helping people feel safe indoors. Solutions need to be adaptable enough to be ready for whatever is needed next. We were pleased to be ready to make quick changes, fully integrating our platform with other systems to maximise its purpose.

It’s much more efficient if systems are able to connect, speak and listen to different software, and this can have a big impact on energy efficiency. We were already using occupancy data from sensors to change the run time of HVAC and other building systems. For example, if a room was empty, we would set the system to turn off the lights. That’s just one example – there are many more ‘If This Then That’ practices that are applicable.

Energy efficiency and sustainability have a circular relationship and their shared value is growing. As leading green architect Jason Jewhurst said: “In more projects and cases than I ever can remember, sustainability is now seen through the eyes of health and wellness — and more fervently. That’s developers, that’s clients, that’s the design community — everybody.”

We’re proud to be part of those driving innovation and change through energy efficiency so that we can all create a more sustainable future. Buildings are where we spend most of our lives and as they become more aware of what we need and we learn how to best optimize their operations and performance, the world will become better for it.

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Interested in how you can increase the value of your building through sustainable practices and energy efficient solutions? Let’s see what we can do together.

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