EU energy transition on track, but buildings still lag behind

An increase in the use of renewables, coupled with a decrease in consumption, is keeping the EU on course to meet its 2020 energy transition targets. But despite these positive indications, building managers are still struggling with energy efficiency.

Many face a growing list of items to action, but lack the technology to prioritise accordingly. Often, 80% of their time is spent identifying problems, with only 20% left to actually resolve them. This scenario needs urgent attention, given that the majority of tertiary buildings have an E, F or G rating for energy performance.

According to a 2017 report by the European Environment Agency, a sharp rise in the use of renewables helped Europe to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by around 10% in 2015. Renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, is currently the most rapidly growing energy type and will soon replace many of its traditional counterparts. Much of this is due to a reduction in manufacturing costs - for example, wind turbines are now 30% cheaper than they were three years ago.

Many corporates are driving production, with Ikea being the latest incumbent to join the trend. In January, it purchased a Canadian wind farm with the aim of creating enough energy to cover its own usage.

In terms of the EU’s overall consumption, by 2014 it had already met its 2020 aim for ‘final energy’ (which relates to energy used by consumers, industry and the services sector). By consuming 1062 Mtoe, it was 2.2% ahead of its target.

These are indeed positive signs, but under the surface, there’s a whole network of teams working hard to patch up inefficient buildings that consume more energy than they should. Buildings produce 40% of the EU’s total CO2, with heating and cooling being the primary reason. Almost half of the EU’s energy consumption is a direct result of controlling temperature.

The EU’s poor energy efficiency is partly due to the delays in renovating tired stock. On average, the EU renovation rate is around 1% per year, which means it would take at least 100 years to bring every building in line. Over 2/3rds were built before any kind of energy regulations were in place.

Amid all of this, building managers are confronted with impossibly long lists of potential actions they could take to improve efficiency. These relate to a range of diverse issues, from the cost of maintaining a server room, through to on-site waste management. Vital data is usually split over multiple spreadsheets or disorganized dashboards.

Taking control with Opisense

Digital needs to become an integral aspect of the EU’s strategy for meeting its longer-term aims. By helping individuals to overcome their day-to-day challenges, the broader objectives will take care of themselves.

For example, Opisense pulls together every strand of relevant building data to allow anyone take action to reduce consumption. All of the key insights are tailored around each user, which means that building occupants can access a quick overview, while energy professionals examine every minutiae. Results can then be monitored against KPIs that are based on specific criteria. Clearly, a hospital’s aims will differ greatly from the objectives of an entire smart city.

Opisense also checks the integrity of its data by considering a range a factors. These include identifying whether readings have been received as expected, as well as comparing data with information collected previously. When something doesn’t look right, it notifies users. This avoids a messy report containing false conclusions.

But perhaps most importantly, a simple dashboard visually depicts the level of building comfort, which means that occupants aren’t disrupted by any new measures. In fact, building comfort usually improves as temperature and humidity can be controlled with greater accuracy.

The city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve reduced its energy usage by up to 31% through Opisense, which is a significant step towards its long-term goal of becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2050. Its building managers now spend most of their time taking action, rather than stuck within a maze of spreadsheets.

To learn more about Opisense, visit

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