Building automation: On the path toward Green Buildings

Single-purpose buildings also need to take into account the aspects of efficiency, security and user comfort. For this reason, a “digital wave of renovation” should be on every company’s agenda.

The amendment to climate protection legislation isn’t the only thing putting pressure on the industry. The situation is currently being exacerbated by imploding energy quantities and exploding energy costs. Energy efficiency and saving is therefore the order of the day. As the largest consumer in Germany, industry used almost half of the electricity (statista) last year, with around 226 terawatt hours (TWh). About two thirds of this was converted into mechanical energy to operate engines and machines in production.

The remaining third “fizzled out” in company buildings, among other things. According to a Bitkom study, intelligent automation could help the building sector in Germany as a whole to meet its climate targets for 2030 by nearly a third (14.7 million tons of CO2).

No building automation

However, not even one in eight companies (12 percent) uses such technologies. Another 22 percent plan to install them soon. And 30 percent can at least imagine this, but are not making the corresponding plans. These are the results of a representative survey from Bitkom for the German economy as a whole.

According to this, intelligent building automation is therefore generally not an issue for a third (32 percent) of companies. That’s quite a lot, considering that there are around 21 million non-residential buildings in Germany (DataNWG). More than a third of these are production, workshop, warehouse or commercial buildings.

The required savings will not be achieved solely with traditional, energetic building measures or renovations. Instead, it needs a wave of digital renovation in the direction of building automation.

However, it is more than just the silver bullet for greater energy and process efficiency. It also increases the attractiveness of the workplace by having positive effects on the aspects of employee recruitment and retention.

Diagnostic connector for buildings

The key applications of building automation include the smart control of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The digital transformation toward Industry 4.0 automatically drives the digitization of building technology, as both are based on the collection and analysis of data using sensors, IoT, cloud and AI.

And, as in the Industry 4.0 environment, the digital twin is also gaining in importance in building management. For example, the “energyTWIN” project at RWTH Aachen University is developing a digital building twin using modern technologies such as reality capturing, cloud-based data science methods and virtual and augmented reality.

For the first time, this combines AI-based image and laser-supported geometric and semantic recording of building and system components with the electronic data of the building automation. The processing of the data in the form of a “diagnostic connector” for buildings then allows analyzes of operating modes, evaluations of functional descriptions and, last but not least, the evaluation of energetic system behavior.