[71] Missed opportunities

This study identified five intelligent control systems that are highly cost-effective but which are not or only partially included in the national cost-optimality reports (from 2013) required by the EPBD. Those reports have a strong impact on the market and can improve the competitiveness of the efficiency measures and technologies they identify as being cost-optimal.

Midway through 2018, Member States are still submitting their second edition of these reports to the Commission. We look forward to evaluating progress made and identifying next steps.

[70] Efficiency in use

The many attempts to define ‘nZEB’ all come up with a list of stand-alone requirements, such as a well-insulated and airtight building shell, efficient HVAC system and a high share of renewable energy. Never mentioned is how to connect them. The EPBD 2018 recast, with its improved focus on controls and automation, could fix the broken chain in the building codes [62, 115].

Any remaining missing links? How about a lifecycle dimension: nearly zero-energy on a spreadsheet is still far from real and persistent performance [124]. Let’s not build policies on the sandy grounds of predicted savings but make user-centric thinking the driver for continuous improvement – even when the building changes function.

[67] How to deliver vast energy savings?

With the revised EPBD tapping into this potential [62, 115], electrical contractors and installers need to prepare themselves for their pivotal role in making our buildings smarter.

It involves a shift from hardware-focused technologies to digital solutions. An aging and dispersed workforce (two million installers in over 350,000 companies) is not easily prepared with the skills they need to remain competitive in this dynamic industry.

A strong plea to all electrical contractors’ associations: set up training programs and facilitate collaboration (within and across the sector boundaries).

[62] Responsive buildings

If the focus on occupants was seen as a revolution back in 2013, five years later the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is mainstreaming the idea.

The new Directive introduces key provisions to make buildings smart and as such improve indoor comfort for the occupants, guide them towards huge energy savings and support them in taking an active role in today’s energy system. Incentives for automation and control functionalities direct them towards the most cost-effective approach for maintaining performance of heating and air-conditioning systems, with returns nine times higher than investments. It’s a great opportunity to shift the focus of policies from the ‘fabric and services’ to the ‘building in use’. Now it’s time for the Member States to really catch the potential.

[38] The value of investing into energy efficiency

While the remaining 37% are now licking their wounds, future-looking property investors are discovering the new El Dorado for risk management: artificial intelligence for internet-connected buildings.

Unprecedented amounts of data, provided by dozens of sensors and aggregated using intelligent key performance indicators, empower occupants to improve comfort and productivity. Not only are energy, operations and maintenance managed in the most optimal way: based on the patterns that emerge from the vast amount of data, management systems also predict and anticipate.

‘Alexa – what’s the ROI for this building?’