Does building automation really help improve energy efficiency? And if so, are the energy savings enough for people to warrant deploying automation?
Those are the questions Quantify’s CEO Brett Savill discussed at the EnergyLab Smart Buildings: Automation event on Wednesday evening in Perth’s Ernst & Young (EY) building.
Brett was joined by two other experts, as each panellist provided their insight into the topic from a unique perspective. Brett discussed how smart home automation influenced the energy sector, HFM Asset Management engineering consultant Beth Morris came from a commercial perspective, while Energetics energy consultant David Wilson discussed how design and strategy played a role in building automation benefitting occupants and their electricity grid.
It’s a known fact that commercial buildings and homes consume more energy than necessary, with roughly 30 to 35% of power being wasted (Cretech and Visual Capitalist). There are plenty of opportunities to save energy, with several solutions in the market.
For example, multiple companies measure energy and provide data for consumers and companies. Heating and cooling were the top users in the home and office using 47 to 50% of energy, followed by the water heater (14%), washing machine and dryer (13%) and lighting (12%) (Visual Capitalist). However, Brett said data alone wasn’t going to cause users to change their behaviour and lower energy usage.
“That’s where building automation comes in, with changes at the device itself increasing efficiency,” Brett said on Wednesday.
He spoke about how Quantify’s technology does this. With Amazon Alexa integrated into the system, you could leave your house and simply say “Alexa, I’m leaving home”, which would prompt all lights and standby power to be turned off, thus, saving energy.
Beth Morris mentioned how automated lights in office buildings was increasing efficiency, whereby if motion was sensed in a room, the lights are turned on and dimmed according to the natural light.
David Wilson went onto say energy savings could be further increased with the deployment of automated aircons, which could detect the temperature in a room and adjust accordingly.
So yes, building automation increases energy savings but is that the primary reason for installing automation or are there others benefits at play?
It was interesting to hear all three experts say that it was other benefits to home owners or employees which played a larger role.
Brett said the reason people would install Quantify’s technology wasn’t for the energy savings, but the benefits it offered to home owners, such as ease of use and convenience of being able to control all aspects of the home via voice, app or touch. It seamlessly fits into one’s life, giving them a better home experience. It also carries appeal for developers, by adding value to apartments or homes.
As mentioned on Cretech by Joseph Aamidor, “many building owners and operators view the non-energy benefits of smart building technologies, such as improved productivity and employee retention, as very compelling.” Beth echoed this statement and said although building automation offered energy saving benefits, it was the employee experience that was perceived as a more worthwhile reason to install automation.
The market for building technologies is only growing and it will be interesting to see how much value is placed on energy efficiency moving forward.
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