Building and construction activities are a major cause of carbon emissions. According to the Global Status Report, building and construction combined account for 36 per cent of global final energy use and 39 per cent of energyrelated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when upstream power generation is included.

For some time, businesses and governments have worked to reduce the impact of the built environment. For example, the Federal Government introduced the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) more than 20 years ago – a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of buildings, measuring energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and the indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.

Greater opportunities to decarbonise

Andrew McCluskey, Siemens Australia’s Country Business Unit Head for Smart Infrastructure Regional Solutions & Service, said that the digitalisation of energy and smart building technology is offering building owners greater opportunities to decarbonise.

Integrated hardware and software are providing building operators better opportunities to see what is happening internally, and interact with the energy systems they are connected to in new ways.

“Siemens is also implementing its own decarbonisation strategy with a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030,” Mr McCluskey said.

“This involves several key concepts around the changing low carbon and energy efficient landscape, and how the grid and smart buildings are starting to work together in new, connected ways.”

Sustainable urban precincts program

Siemens played an instrumental role in the ambitious sustainability program undertaken by RMIT, to reduce its energy and water use and carbon emissions by 25 per cent. The $128 million program started in 2014 and at the time was the largest Sustainable Urban Precincts Program in the Southern Hemisphere.

The program was implemented across RMIT’s three Melbourne campuses, with Siemens responsible for the City Campus, which is made up of 90 buildings across two city blocks.

The project’s aim was to reduce electricity use over eight years by an estimated 239 million kW, which is enough electricity to power 7,000 houses for six years. This is equivalent to a 30,000 tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – the same as planting an area the size of Melbourne CBD with 128,000 trees annually.

The program replaced 2,000 fixtures and had a target to reduce water use by an estimated 68 million litres. Impressively, the targets were achieved four years ahead of schedule. As part of the project, a Distributed Energy System was implemented, encompassing new HV infrastructure as well as two cogeneration systems.

Also included was Siemens’ building management system (Desigo) and Siemens software to monitor and analyse energy consumption and savings. Siemens likes to call the way forward the ‘grid interactive’ building which incorporates newer and smarter technologies.

Three stages to becoming a grid interactive building

From Siemens’ perspective there are three stages a company can take to become a grid interactive building:

1. Load management: this is where all electricity loads within a building’s footprint are managed whilst using automation and enhanced algorithms to predict or suggest more energy efficient actions

2. Optimisation within the building or campus: this is bringing together a portfolio of many buildings to have a centralised management view, which in turn leads to better decision making

3. Demand flexibility: this is about understanding the total loads along with internal patterns and needs, and once understood, it can start looking at a future where it interacts and optimises the grid at a building level

It is clear the building sector has the potential for significant improvement. Vital to this is expert support from specialist companies that understand buildings; so it can prioritise the right actions across the business and manage the risks around project implementation, performance and finance.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Siemens. For more information, visit siemens.com.au.

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