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Building technology and new laws drive energy efficiency forward

A combination of forthcoming legislation and increasing accessibility to controls technology is set to drive building energy efficiency over the next decade.

A recent report by building services association BSRIA, Smart Buildings and Technology Trends, reveals a sharp uptake of building automation and controls (BAC) systems with open standard communication protocols, opening the way to further integration of building functions, including cooling.

The association has seen a rise in technology from 40 per cent in 2004 to 70 per cent in 2012, and forecasts that the penetration of open standard communication protocol will rise to at least 80 per cent by 2017, driven by customer demand for connectivity and interoperability between different systems.

According to the European Building Automation and Controls Association (eu.bac), around 20 per cent of energy consumed by buildings is wasted.

The report concludes: “In the 27 EU countries only one in five buildings have BACS, and these are generally in medium to large buildings, so there is a large untapped opportunity to retrofit medium to small buildings. An important conclusion is that a large number of non-residential buildings do not have BACS or BEMS.”

Furthermore, the demand for energy-efficient technology is expected to increase with impending announcement by the government regarding the revised 2013 Part L Building Regulations, which is expected to call for the use of renewable technology in new commercial buildings to hit emission targets – new build CO2 reduction targets for commercial buildings are to be 20 per cent.

Additionally, the minimum system efficiencies recommended in the Non-Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide have also been tightened. For instance, for most air conditioning systems, the minimum ESEER is being increased from 2.5 to 2.7. Likewise, the maximum SFPs have all been incrementally reduced by 0.1-0.3 W/l/s, depending on the system. Again, however, it may be necessary to exceed these minimum efficiencies to comply with the new CO2 targets.

However, Dan Jestico, head of research and development at Hilson Moran, warns that a current lack of performance data for existing commercial buildings may hinder the introduction of suitable energy efficient cooling technologies.

“While the proposals outlined for Part L 2013 are pragmatic and well thought, we need more data on buildings in use by rolling out DECs and information on Allowable Solutions before we have a good idea of how much more work is required to hit the zero carbon target.”

To read the full features, check out the June issue of RAC magazine SUSCRIBE HERE

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