Time for action on building energy use in a cost and climate crisis

Time for action on building energy use in a cost and climate crisis

Peter Murphy | 12th, August , 2022

Indoor air quality monitoring offers a simple, scientific and cost-effective way to control building energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions now

There is hardly a news programme today that doesn’t feature the cost of energy – whether it’s the financial impact on businesses, households and the economy, or the damage it’s doing to the planet we live on.

While the current geopolitical turmoil has a huge role to play in the energy crisis, the fact is that unprecedented demand for limited carbon-based resources has long been impacting the markets and climate change.

And buildings are among the top contributors. Buildings and construction in the EU were estimated to consume some 40% of the bloc’s energy and contribute some 36% of CO2 emissions in 2020, according to the European Commission.

These staggering figures were slightly down on previous years but let’s not forget the fact that much of the world was in lockdown for 2020. Furthermore, much of this is wasted energy – the European Commission estimates that some 75% of buildings in the EU are energy inefficient.

Making buildings smarter


All this has sparked a drive to use technology and innovation to make buildings smarter – reducing energy consumption, becoming more energy efficient and contributing to Net Zero targets. Ventilation and temperature control systems are a great place to start, and indoor air quality monitoring services can help.

Most large modern workplaces have extensive ventilation systems, to remove CO2 and other airborne pollutants. And rightly so. The effects of elevated CO2 levels on human health are well-documented – often referred to as ‘sick building syndrome’, this can cause headaches, dizziness, restlessness, difficulty breathing, tiredness and an increased heart rate – all of which can have a significant impact on productivity and wellbeing.

The fans keep air flowing throughout the building, reducing CO2 levels and other airborne contaminates such as PM 2.5 or Volatile Organic Compounds. But running these powerful systems unnecessarily wastes both energy and money.

To help with energy efficiency, many companies schedule their ventilation runs, switching them off overnight, and powering them up, say, a few hours before the building occupants return. ZiggyTec’s indoor air quality monitoring services help them do this with scientific precision.

Take the following example. Let’s say a building manager powers up the ventilation system at 6am, to make sure that CO2 levels and VOC levels have been reduced accordingly by the time staff start arriving at 9am.

The data insights provided through ZiggyTec’s intelligent platform can display the levels through hourly, daily, weekly and monthly reports. By analysing this data, and scheduling insights-based tests, building managers could find that the system actually brings about safe levels of CO2 and VOCs within just an hour.

They can then set the fans to power on at, say, 7.30am, ensuring a safe environment by 8.30am, and saving 1.5 hours of power every working day. That all adds up to significant savings over time.

Similarly, our smart sensors send data on temperature and humidity to the cloud. Reports can be pulled on a real-time, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis, giving facilities managers the power to draw down the data they need, any time that they need it, optimising heating and cooling systems on an ongoing basis.

Growing calls for legislation on indoor air quality 

Governments, too, are starting to look at the impact of indoor air quality factors, as they face mounting pressure to act on climate change, and amid lingering concerns over Covid-19.

Spain recently issued a decree aimed at public buildings, shopping centres, cinemas, theatres, rail stations and airports, stating that heating systems should not be set above 19 degrees Celsius, while air conditioning should not be set below 27 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the US Government is exploring tax credits for indoor air quality assessments and air-filtration / HVAC system upgrades as more people return to work in the post-pandemic environment.

In New York, the local law, 96 PACE is a very significant financing programme established to fund qualifying energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to help buildings comply with the Climate Mobilisation Act.

And in New Zealand, experts are urging the government to introduce regulation on indoor air quality. Among the many benefits, they say, are increased cognitive function and productivity in workplaces when CO2 levels within offices are reduced.

Simple steps to bring costs and emissions down now 

Many commentators suggest that the war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis will have the silver lining of finally shaking the world from its fixation on burning carbon for power. And with the journey to Net Zero at least underway, with grants and innovation at the core, there is hope that humanity can engineer itself out of an existential threat.

But there are simple things we can do now, to manage buildings’ energy consumption and reduce emissions in a very cost-effective way, through smart building technology.

Get in touch with us today to find out more.