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Buildings as the cornerstone to decarbonisation

Admin l Thursday, May 12, 2022

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa –  With most humans spending around 90 percent of their lives in some type of building, it’s clear that these structures – be they homes, schools, shops, offices or more – play a significant role in our daily existence.

However, buildings and their construction account for over one-third of final global energy consumption and close to 40 percent of total direct and indirect carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This makes the decarbonisation of buildings, and enhancing their energy efficiency, essential to curtail a rise in emissions.

“With roughly two-thirds of the current building stock projected to still be in use in 2040, increasing the renovation rate of existing buildings is high priority,” explains Sydney Govender, senior country sales manager at Danfoss Drives South Africa. “If not, these buildings will still be producing CO2 emissions in twenty years’ time, making it practically impossible to achieve the Paris Agreement’s targets.

“Standards for new buildings, and their construction, must also improve. This is of particular urgency in terms of the foreseen growth of the buildings and construction sector during this period.

“Further, Sub-Saharan African countries, along with those in South and Central America, are increasingly recognising the importance of the decarbonisation of building, but application remains low, according to the Global Alliance for Building and Construction, so more focus must be brought to this topic in these regions, and it must be done now.”

More energy-efficient buildings also mean healthier local communities and towns, adds Govender. “Improved comfort and indoor air quality leads to less associated illnesses and medical costs. This raises the overall productivity and comfort level of society, with less people requiring medical leaves of absence.”

Enabling energy efficiency solutions in buildings

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A massive eighty percent of the energy used in buildings can be attributed to heating and cooling, which helps maintain an optimal temperature and air quality within the building, but is still predominantly fossil-fuel based, Govender continues.

“The optimisation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which may not have been properly installed or don’t run efficiently, is a simple start to building decarbonisation. If this is executed correctly, it is possible to secure an average energy saving of 30 percent with a payback time of just two to four years. This would include critical steps such as digitalisation.

“We need to use our energy smarter, and digitalisation is one of the primary drivers to optimise energy production, energy consumption and the integration side of energy. Advanced building automation and control systems within ‘smart’ buildings continuously monitor, analyse, and benchmark the energy performance of the building’s technical systems.

“Data is then used to inform building owners, managers and/or inhabitants about the energy performance of the building, and notify them when an action is required. It also empowers building users to better understand their environment, proactively managing their energy usage and maintaining a healthy, comfortable and productive environment. Or, self-learning software could help to optimise energy use automatically based on users’ habits, thereby lowering energy use and bills.

“The need for decarbonising both residential and commercial buildings is enormous. And so is the untapped potential. The good news is that there are already proven technologies available to increase the efficiency of buildings and make the systems within them more efficient.”

 

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