The European Green Deal is increasing the pressure on the built environment to cut its carbon footprint. Next generation building technologies can help achieve that goal, explains Nikki Mehta, director of energy and sustainability, Honeywell.

The European Union (EU) is working to transition towards a more sustainable economy by adopting the European Green Deal. The main objectives of the deal are to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050.

Consequently, the Green Deal is increasing the pressure on the built environment by encouraging organisations to reduce their carbon footprints. According to the EU, roughly 75% of buildings in the EU are not energy efficient, yet 85–95% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050. To incentivise the much-needed building upgrades, the EU revised its Energy Performance Buildings Directive (EPBD) and introduced its ‘renovation wave’ strategy to help drive changes to reduce the energy consumption and carbon impact of both existing and new buildings.

Integrating building management systems

To support the ‘renovation wave,’ implementing next generation technologies will be essential for optimising the energy performance of buildings. For example, a key area highlighted in the EU’s renovation wave strategy is the need to lessen the carbon impact of heating and cooling buildings. Introducing more efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems is important but it isn’t enough. Building owners and operators need to think about how they’re controlling those systems. Leveraging a building management system (BMS) as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) based software that can autonomously identify and implement energy conservation measures adds intelligence to the control of these systems.

A modern BMS provides the ability to control building systems such as HVAC, boilers, chillers and lighting, and can even optimize based on weather, building occupancy and time of day. When paired with advanced AI/ML software it gives building owners and operators more capabilities and insights on building performance, even down to an asset-specific level, and can measure critical sustainability KPIs including carbon emissions.

For targeting specific KPIs such as carbon emissions, specialised software platforms can be advantageous. For example, software that manages carbon and energy use can help building managers track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, with granular insight at a device or asset level. It’s also important to use a system that provides an energy performance baseline along with live metre data and environmental factors to determine which assets are driving energy consumption. These types of ready-now solutions can help achieve the Green Deal’s objectives while improving the operations of buildings or building portfolios.

Achieving climate neutral goals by 2050 is no easy task. The European real-estate portfolio is diverse; it includes structures of varying ages, region-specific building management requirements and an array of methods for heating and cooling. Nonetheless, it is possible to make significant progress and improvements. For example, Honeywell has ready now solutions to help building owners and operators meet their sustainability goals and comply with the Green Deal targets. Honeywell is aligned with the EU’s sustainable ambition and aims to be climate neutral in its own facilities and operations by 2035.

Looking forward to climate neutrality

The European Green Deal will change the way we use buildings. With its ambitious targets and strict environmental regulations, companies from all industries will now, more than ever, need to integrate sustainability within their core business strategy, if the objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 is to be achieved. Effective building energy and carbon management is central to that.