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SMART BUILDINGS SMART GRID TECHNOLOGY An intelligent approach to intelligent buildings Post European Utility Week, OÖ Energiesparverband’s Christiane Egger takes a closer look at the growing market for intelligent buildings – what they are, why they’re important and how we can realise their full potential. Recent research forecasts that the European market for energy efficient building products and services will double over the next seven years, from the €41.4 billion spent in 2014 to €80.8 billion in 2023. This is encouraging news, especially since intelligent buildings have the potential to be one of the most important tools countries can use to meet their Paris Agreement commitments. So it’s important that we work out how to support and direct the market as it grows. Of course, the first step is to be very clear about what we mean by the phrase ‘intelligent buildings’ – they’re more than just energy efficient shells, running on on-site or grid-based renewables (though that’s certainly an important part of the equation). Rather, intelligent buildings are systems, consisting of an efficient building 56 envelope and renewable energy supply that combines a series of digital technologies and services to deliver further efficiency gains in a user-friendly way. All of these elements – efficiency, user friendliness and digitisation – are crucial to making a building intelligent. A simple example: An office building might be automated such that the blinds close at certain times during the day to prevent overheating. But without giving inhabitants the ability to override this system – such as if they’d like a few minutes of sunshine – the building isn’t truly intelligent. It is important to make the users part of the building's intelligence; and this is done by creating an understanding of 'why and how' building automation can work for them. Balancing for better It’s through striking this balance between digitation and user friendliness that real energy savings can be made. Intelligence comes when the building allows for this override and then reverts back to the automated system after a set time: striking the right balance between maintaining efficiency and providing a comfortable environment for inhabitants. METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE – 6 | 2016