Linking building occupancy to energy use

Run from 24/08/20 - 25/09/20

Introduction

Amongst all the chaos of 2020, two things kept happening: the world kept warming and organisations kept making net zero carbon commitments. Over the next nine years, we need to halve both the energy use of the UK’s buildings and global carbon emissions. Meeting this challenge requires an innovative approach to finding and adopting solutions to ensure swift and radical transformation across the built environment industry.

The World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) Advancing Net Zero campaign promotes and supports the acceleration of total sector decarbonisation by 2050. As part of this campaign, in 2019, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) published ‘Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition’ to provide the industry with clarity on how to practically achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation, supporting those who align with WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (The Commitment). The Commitment challenges signatories
to reach net zero operating emissions in their portfolios by 2030 and to advocate for all buildings to be net zero in operation by 2050. By January 2021, 94 business and organisations, 28 cities and 6 states and regions have already signed this commitment, including 42 UKGBC members. These numbers are rising rapidly.

Addressing the climate and ecological crises, and their associated social impacts, is too great a challenge for any one organisation to tackle alone. To make ambitions like The Commitment
truly achievable requires collaboration and knowledge-sharing to increase both awareness and adoption of sustainability solutions across the built environment industry. So many of the solutions for net zero already exist but are often not common knowledge or well understood. UKGBC is uniquely positioned to convene our membership and the wider industry towards this common goal.

Challenge context

Our pilot challenges were launched amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, during which a large portion of the UK population unexpectedly found themselves working from home. As a result, office spaces across the country were left empty or with very low levels of occupancy. However, it has been anecdotally reported that the new levels and requirements of occupation have not resulted in the expected reductions in energy use. This challenge sought to uncover solutions that building owners and occupiers can use now to ensure that reduced and varying building occupancy translates into corresponding reductions in energy use, carbon, and cost.

Challenge

How can a building owner improve their existing buildings, with as little physical intervention as possible, to achieve net zero operational carbon by 2030?

Solutions

The solutions we received to address this challenge were mostly well established and technology focused. They fall largely into two categories: demand control or monitoring and analysis solutions. Nine of the solutions we received, which were deemed to address this challenge well, are highlighted in this section.

Aircuity

Aircuity offers sensing and control solutions that reduce building energy and operating expenses and improve indoor environmental quality. Aircuity optimises ventilation using a patented demand control technology which continually samples a variety of parameters in the air. It relays this to the central building management system to increase or decrease ventilation rates.

By combining advanced real-time building sensing technology with continuous web-based building performance data acquisition and analysis, Aircuity has developed a building energy and indoor environment information platform that delivers cost effective knowledge on ventilation performance. Continuous data analysis helps building owners and facility managers reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint while still maintaining a healthy indoor environment for occupants. The Aircuity system can be integrated with any existing Building management system/LCS via BACnet or hardwired communications

Carbon Intelligence: Smart Building Optimisation Services

Carbon Intelligence’s smart optimisation services combine data expertise and ‘smart building’ technology, to unlock maximum value for businesses, people and buildings. Carbon Intelligence deploy secure, non-invasive technology to continuously monitor key performance data across entire building portfolios, helping owners to understand and optimise energy performance to create an enhanced environment.

Carbon Intelligence ‘Smart Programmes’ optimise performance by capturing and analysing granular data from a building’s building management system and /or wireless sensors, to tune their performance. The system reduces operating costs, energy spend and carbon impact as well as improving health, wellbeing and productivity through enhanced internal environmental conditions. It also offers a single solution for different assets across a portfolio and enables greater visibility over plant operations resulting in more
informed maintenance plans, consequently increasing the life space of the plant. The Smart Optimisation Programme has also been designed to support demand reduction ambitions within net zero carbon pathways by reducing consumption to align with benchmark and intensity targets. To achieve long term optimisation, Carbon Intelligence deliver an ongoing managed service with detailed analytics, collaboration and verified energy savings through the industry recognised International Performance Measurement and Verification protocol (IPMVP) standard.

Demand Logic

Demand Logic is a software tool which provides actionable intelligence to property managers and building contractors. Demand Logic accesses thousands of operational data sets, by connecting directly to the building management system network and curating the information into an easily accessible web-based platform. Users can see how a building is operating, with particular focus on HVAC systems, utility meters and internal environmental sensors for temperature, C02, air quality, humidity, and occupancy.

Installation requires just a single Data Acquisition Device gateway to connect an existing building management system to a secure internet service. The connection can be completed in a single site visit which will take no more than 3 hours. The intention is that easy access to resulting data will enable quick identification of any systems, processes or procedures resulting in energy wastage. Demand Logic is also able to pinpoint the exact piece of plant causing any problems. The platform can enable monitoring of individual buildings or entire portfolios and is quoted to result in saving of 10% – 30% on energy costs & reduced carbon emissions.

Fabriq OS

Fabriq is an energy and resource data platform for the built environment, using Internet of Things technology to reduce consumption, save costs and meet sustainability targets. It provides the ability to track and manage all building related performance metrics in a single online system. Users can benchmark buildings to identify savings potential, manage projects, track the impact of efficiency measures, create reports, and share the results with various stakeholders.

Fabriq is a fully integrated web based Internet of Things platform to track energy and resource consumption across built assets. The platform is designed to gather data from a variety of sources including building management system and Internet of Things sensors enabling in-depth visibility of energy-use patterns, operating statuses of building systems and utilisation levels of buildings.

Grid Edge

Grid Edge has created an energy, carbon and cost saving platform to optimise energy use in commercial buildings and support organisations on their journey to net zero. The solution is built around creating a digital twin of a building that brings together the customers building management system, metering, sensor, and environmental data onto one smart, digital platform.

The platform’s algorithms detect inefficient and unusual energy performance with automatic notifications for rapid resolution. Live data, analytics and automated insights rendered in a bespoke 3D Digital Twin allows real-time optimisation of a building’s energy performance to reduce energy and carbon costs by as much as 20%. Hardware installation can be completed in a single visit, with any remaining commissioning done remotely. AI predictions are then made using building & contextual data.

Lightfi

LightFi is an Internet of Things solution that uses WiFi radio to measure occupancy count and retrofit buildings. LightFi design occupancy sensors with optimising energy efficiency in mind, as well being able to monitor CO2
levels, air quality, temperature and humidity. The data from their sensors is available on an online portal for monitoring and analysis

LightFi provide direct integration to a building’s building management system, with no rewiring required and retrofit mini-HVAC-version equipment with relevant strategies to automate commercial and public buildings. Responsive HVAC capability based on real-time demand reduces energy use when space is under-occupied. LightFi automatically reduces the HVAC loads when demand starts to fall, to make sure air is not cycled unnecessarily. The more dynamic the occupancy patterns, the more energy LightFi saves by allowing the building to “breathe” in sync with live usage patterns.

SkySpark Analytics

SkySpark by SkyFoundry automatically analyses data from smart devices and equipment systems to identify issues, faults, deviations, and anomalies enabling improved performance, reduced downtime, and operational savings.

SkySpark analyses data from automation systems, metering systems and other smart devices to identify issues, patterns, deviations, faults and opportunities for operational improvements and cost reduction. SkySpark provides a comprehensive suite for analysis of energy resources including electrical demand, consumption, cost, as well as water and gas usage. The platform automatically aligns energy usage data with equipment operational status showing exactly how equipment systems are affecting energy use.

Smart Spaces App

The Smart Spaces App is a secure, cloud based Internet of Things platform that enables users to directly control their heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting. Smart Spaces use Bluetooth beacons, PIR sensors and access control integration to monitor building occupancy and adjust the HVAC and lighting accordingly.

The Smart Spaces building automation platform flexibly integrates leading-edge smart technologies to the legacy building management system of a portfolio. Using a single app – accessible on smartphones, desktops and tablets – users benefit from real-time view and control over space utilisation, including space density management. Having control of lighting, climate and energy consumption allows occupiers and owners better understand their smart building. Moreover, using insights gained by the anonymised aggregated data collected by the platform, real-time efficiency levels are constantly monitored and set against target KPIs. This analysis translates into effective use of resources and valuable improvements in the long run.

Ubiqisense

The Ubiqisense smart sensors solution provides actionable insights on behavioural patterns and space utilisation. Smart vision-based Internet of Things sensors are installed inside buildings to detect people and objects. High granularity and precision enable the collection of data on room occupancy and utilisation. In the cloud, data is stored and analysed, then can be accessed and visualised via a cloud-based analytics portal or pulled into external systems where it can be leveraged and operationalised.

Ubiqisense monitors building occupancy to inform services such as lighting and HVAC, while enabling greater control over the building using Internet of Things technologies. Data findings can therefore be used to determine whether a property could be more energy efficient. By integrating UbiqiSense into existing systems, it is possible to locate any energy-saving potentials, such as where heating or air-conditioning systems are being used unnecessarily, perhaps in infrequently used meeting rooms.