The benefits of regenerative architecture and unlocking the data potential in buildings

According to the NERC’s most recent Summer Reliability Assessment, several U.S. regions are projected to face a record-setting high risk of energy emergencies during the peak of this year’s summer conditions

These extreme events not only drastically increase energy consumption but often result in large scale power outages. For example, the Midwest and NWPP regions are predicted to be highly impacted by power outages, with residential structures and older commercial buildings at the highest risk for rolling blackouts.  

Resilience and energy consumption go hand in hand. Older buildings that don’t have resilience built-in with next-generation technology solutions are more at risk of adverse effects during power outages when energy demand skyrockets. As extreme climate events increase, they are challenging the resiliency of buildings and our ability to keep things running no matter the weather, disaster, or otherwise. These events also lead to drastically increased energy consumption and power outages, highlighting the importance of understanding what solutions will truly reduce energy consumption and achieve energy savings. How can governments, organizations, and businesses work to increase energy efficiency and cut energy costs in response to these events? 

Regenerative Architecture 

Regenerative architecture is “architecture that focuses on conservation and performance through a focused reduction on the environmental impacts of a building.” It can allow buildings to generate their own electricity and provides structures to sell excess energy back to the grid, creating a comprehensive, self-sustaining prosumer architecture. By producing their own energy through solar and wind turbines, these buildings significantly lower their carbon emissions and have more resilience in the face of extreme weather events. Some can even reverse environmental damage.  

But to fully leverage these opportunities, building owners and facility managers need smarter control of their energy. The right data, insights, and control help to make fast decisions and act on them. This is possible through the power digitalization of buildings.  

The Data Potential in Buildings 

Buildings are responsible for 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions, second only to manufacturing. Yet, 30% of energy in buildings is wasted, often heating, cooling, and lighting empty spaces. Power digitalization and process automation deliver the real-time data and analytics needed to identify energy inefficiency and waste. This is a way for buildings to save on energy usage while optimizing comfort. For example, HVAC system settings can be optimized in response to occupancy sensors, only heating or cooling the areas in use. 

Digitalization allows facility managers to have complete control over a building’s carbon profile via visibility over energy distribution operations. Connecting IoT-enabled devices to software and services unlocks significant opportunities for a better understanding of how energy is used in order to find savings and reduce energy-related emissions. Having a digital view of infrastructure also helps to identify risks and enable predictive maintenance, which will minimize downtime. This energy optimization and digitalization helps buildings to have smart, safe, resilient power in times of energy uncertainty, such as during blackouts as a result of extreme weather events. 

Existing buildings have the most untapped potential for efficiency; why? Because 80% of 2050’s buildings already exist today and now is the time to evolve how we power and manage existing buildings reducing the operational carbon footprint to zero. The opportunity to reduce energy consumption and increase resiliency with regenerative architecture and power digitalization is immense. Making buildings smarter and more efficient while increasing comfort for occupants can also come with enormous long-term savings. Those on the cutting-edge of unlocking the data potential in buildings see significant paybacks in lower energy costs, increased resilience, and the data needed to make smart, fast decisions in any circumstance.  

About the Author

Luis D’Acosta is EVP of Schneider Electric’s Digital Energy Division. We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.

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