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How can an efficient Building Automation System (BAS) help tackle the winter crisis in Europe?

Gaurav Bali
Gaurav Bali

26th October 2022

Introduction

Energy costs are growing as Europe prepares for the winter. Europe is implementing relief initiatives and making plans to reshape the electricity and natural gas markets as it gets ready for increased energy demand this winter, despite high costs and limited energy sources. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a major factor in the cost increase. Many European nations have relied heavily on Russia as a source of oil and natural gas. Due to the war and sanctions imposed on Russia, supplies have been restricted. After Russia reduced the amount of natural gas supply required to heat homes, run factories, and produce power to a tenth of what it was prior to invading Ukraine, the question is whether it will be sufficient to avoid government-imposed rationing and rolling blackouts. 

The conflict has evolved into an energy and economic crisis as a result of Europe’s reliance on Russian energy, with prices recently reaching record highs and swinging unpredictably. Building and business owners are indeed concerned about the cost of electricity in the upcoming months. In light of this, European countries have established a variety of strategies and measures to save and reduce energy usage in buildings and residential facilities in an effort to prepare for and warn against the impending winter crisis. One such efficient energy conservation solution is building automation systems(BAS). In this blog, we’ll talk about how an effective Building Automation System (BAS) may help Europe deal with its winter crisis.

Winter Crisis in Europe Briefly Explained

As winter approaches, Europe’s energy problem is getting worse. Due to the region’s dependence on Russian gas supplies, there are currently serious economic risks and a high risk of supply disruptions. Reliance on Russian imports, the proportion of gas in the energy mix, and storage capacity are three major variables that are essential to comprehend the dangers associated with energy that European countries face. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union (EU) imported less than 40% of its natural gas from Russia, although the percentage varied significantly by nation. 

Last year, Germany was the country that imported the most Russian gas, although liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals in Belgium and Spain are helping to lessen those countries’ reliance on Russian gas. However, the proportion of gas in a country’s energy mix can significantly affect risk. For instance, historically, over 90% of Finland’s gas imports come from Russia, but gas only makes up a small portion of Finland’s energy mix, greatly reducing Finland’s risk. Last but not least, even if EU member states made considerable strides in stockpiling supplies over the summer, storage capacity could be a limiting concern if it does not cover a significant amount of yearly use. 

Before the upcoming winter, the EU appears to be on track to reach its goal of filling 85% of the entire underground gas storage capacity. Despite this development, the IEA’s scenario analysis shows that even when gas storage reaches 90% later this year, storage levels might drop dangerously low by February 2023 if Russian gas shipments are interrupted since non-Russian imports won’t be enough to make up the difference. Seasonality and a lack of infrastructure to move gas from west to east inside the EU further exacerbate the situation. Although the EU’s storage capacity provides about 27% of average annual consumption, over 55% of annual gas demand is utilised between November and March in a normal year. Because of such rising energy demand, European countries are implementing energy-saving solutions like building automation systems (BAS) in both residential and commercial structures, allowing them to handle the challenges of winter with ease. We will go into more detail about building automation systems and how they aid in energy conservation in the following sections.

Building Automation System : Explained!

Buildings can be very challenging to keep under control, especially their energy consumption levels. A building automation system is a device that is installed in a building or other structure and has the ability to control and monitor a variety of building-related functions, including energy consumption, lighting, air ventilation, heating, and cooling. Automation systems are often created to function with little to no human involvement. These kinds of systems are frequently put in place in commercial industries, corporate headquarters, shopping malls, and private residences.

To put it another way, a building automation system is a system, or occasionally a group of systems, that enables centralised management and control of the services within a building. Typically, a computerised system made up of three distinct components is used to control building automation systems.

  • The field layer, also known as the field controller layer, is the first component. This part of the system consists of gadgets that communicate with the outside world, like the sensors that start or activate different processes. 
  • The automation layer, which is the second element, is in charge of communicating with the field layer’s sensors. The automation layer, for instance, analyses sensor data and sets off alarms when a sensor picks up particular environmental cues.
  • The management layer, which is the third element of the automation system, enables overall system control, upkeep, and updates. This part of the system also logs and stores the information gathered by the other parts.

Benefits of Building Automation System

Energy Conservation

A building automation system makes HVAC and electrical systems work more effectively, which lowers energy use and utility costs. A BAS not only aids in automating a building’s systems with sensors and timers, but also gathers data on the energy usage of the facility, which may be examined for future improvement prospects. This decrease in energy consumption benefits everyone because it lowers prices as well as the building’s environmental impact.

For example, the lighting in the building uses a lot of energy, much of which is squandered on unused spaces. When you use an automated lighting system, your business might save up to 30% annually on lighting expenses. Your system uses a sophisticated network of sensors, scheduling tools, and occupancy controls to detect when a space is empty and automatically turn off the lighting. Scheduling can take into account both day and nighttime hours as well as locations outside your building, like ramps, walkways, parking lots, garages, loading docks, etc.

Reduce Maintenance Cost

As was already noted, a building automation system improves the efficiency of a facility’s systems by preventing failures and other problems, notably with HVAC systems. The systems in a building are more likely to incur less deterioration, last longer, and need fewer repairs when they are managed by a BAS. Whether or whether you use a BAS, it’s still necessary to have your systems maintained on a regular basis. In addition, sustainable energy management and practical conservation are provided by a building management control system. Energy wastage will nearly disappear, energy consumption will be significantly reduced, and all systems’ performance will be increased. These priceless benefits of management system effectiveness will help your business save money and time.

Building maintenance made easier

BAS gives building management staff the means to administer a building and knowledge of what is occurring there, like how much energy is being used overall, whether lights are left on unnecessarily, and much more. In order to identify resource utilisation and other pertinent information, building automation systems are frequently combined with smart metering or energy management software. Without needing to physically inspect the equipment, computerised controls and real-time displays provide immediate and continuous feedback on everything that is happening with the equipment in the facility. This reduces the need for pricey problem identification visits, prevents service disruptions, and streamlines operations.

How does a building automation system aid in energy conservation in buildings, thus addressing Europe’s winter crisis?

Winter, which is soon to approach Europe, brings with it a variety of problems and invisible difficulties that will affect how well your HVAC system works and the increased energy consumption. Because of this, the beginning of winter is the ideal time to start preparing your business building so that you do not have last-minute problems that would necessitate expensive repairs, downtime, and a reduction in your profit margin. Although there are several ways you may prepare your HVAC system for the winter’s challenges, investing in an effective building automation system will certainly relieve some of your workloads, conserve energy, reduce energy wastage and keep your HVAC system functioning effectively. Another option is to choose a building automation system, which will take care of turning off any powered system in the absence of occupants or based on scheduled duties as people are creatures that have a tendency to forget.

Investing in a building automation system is not a choice but a requirement in mitigating the ongoing energy and winter crisis. In addition to lowering your energy expenses and increasing efficiency, it will also increase user comfort and make managing many properties easier. With effective building automation and controls, you can keep an eye on energy use, change settings, get warnings, foresee issues, lower the need for expensive repairs, and much more. Your building must be equipped with BAS in order to perform basic functions like scheduling the lighting system, detect inhabitants using occupancy sensors, and obtain insightful data for enhanced decision-making. 

In addition to implementing a building automation system, facility managers should raise awareness among those who work in the building so that residents will be encouraged to participate in the programme. You can set up signs, banners, and sessions to remind workers, staff, and other building occupants to turn off all gadgets, including task lighting, kitchen appliances, and computers. 

As a part of building automation system implementation, change out outdated incandescent lighting for more current, energy-efficient lighting, such LED, so that it may be smoothly integrated with sensors to track energy usage. Although they may initially be more expensive, these are more durable and energy-efficient than conventional bulbs, which will help users lower their electricity expenses over time. Also pay attention to lighting in places that don’t need much illumination, including parking lots and places with lots of natural light. To efficiently control lights and lower utility costs, spend money on motion sensors, smart lighting, or dimmers.

Install an energy metre or submetering for every unit you own or manage, such as in condo buildings. As residents pay their own portion of the utility bills, this encourages them to be more mindful of their energy use habits and assists in detecting the real energy usage in each unit. 

Considering that the HVAC system is a vital part of a building and a significant energy consumer, users should spend money on an effective HVAC monitoring system or HVAC monitoring software that can provide you with real-time updates and control over the HVAC system energy usage. This will increase the comfort of the residents while also lowering energy expenditures.

As they employ environmentally friendly natural resources, renewable energy sources can be a fantastic method to save energy expenses and reduce carbon footprint. If the operation of your building or place of business depends on the generation of electricity, you may want to consider alternative methods of generating electricity, such as cogeneration, which eliminates energy loss, boosts efficiency by up to 90% or more, and lowers energy costs.

When purchasing new appliances or equipment for the facility, it is advised to look at the equipment’s energy rating. A machine’s energy rating describes how effectively it operates based on the energy it uses, which can include water, electricity, and how well it performs. Modern appliances and models typically have higher energy ratings than their predecessors. These are energy rated for their effectiveness and efficiency in energy conservation and cost-cutting. For any owner, operator, or facilities manager of business property, energy conservation is, without a doubt, a top priority. However there are many energy-saving options when it comes to building energy conservation, but they all depend on various things, like the type of residential buildings, objectives, the size of your facility, and so on.

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Conclusion

Europe is experiencing an energy crisis ahead of the impending winter as a result of Russia's protracted conflict with Ukraine. The European Union is ready for emergencies, including power disruptions, due to the coming energy crisis this winter. This sets off a variety of well-being measures, such as building automation and energy-saving technologies. Building automation systems are highly recommended for a number of reasons, one of which is the significant amount of energy you may save by using them. Did you know that one of the biggest sources of waste is the energy used in business buildings? In fact, unneeded energy use can account for about 30% of expenses. A building automation system can be used to manage and maintain gas, electricity, and water. Any inefficiencies brought on by surplus and waste can be resolved using the system. To control energy use, these kinds of systems will employ a variety of monitoring approaches consisting of sensors, sub-meters, metres, and many other devices. These tools will make sure that energy is used in a sensible and affordable manner, thereby making the nation effectively deal with energy challenges.


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