4 Ways Smart Buildings Benefit the Environment


Buildings are responsible for 40% of global energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Economic Forum. As heightened levels of carbon emissions are known to negatively impact the environment and accelerate climate change, the race to reduce such emissions is increasingly urgent and significant. In an attempt to minimise their carbon impact, more and more building owners are turning to smart building solutions. Smart buildings tend to be geared towards holistic sustainability, optimising energy efficiency, building operations and occupant productivity all at the same time. Here are 4 ways smart buildings can benefit the environment.

Use of IoT devices and sensors to conserve energy - A relatively low-cost technology found in smart buildings is the use of IoT devices and sensors that collect and transmit real-time data based on the environment, building operations, and occupants’ activities in the building. For example, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensors are installed to monitor the level of air quality vis-à-vis humidity, temperature and pollutants, to conserve energy consumed and ensure that the environment in the building remains clean for all occupants. Another example often found in smart buildings is occupancy and motion sensors. Given information on the presence of occupants, these sensors complement automated adjustments to Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) settings and lighting systems, and help to conserve energy when not in use.

Leveraging tech platforms that reduce energy consumption - One prominent feature of smart buildings is the use of intelligent energy management cloud platforms and software that enable building operators to analyse the energy consumption patterns of a building, obtain insights into optimising energy consumption, improve asset reliability and performance of the building. Leveraging such tech advancements to reduce energy consumption allows buildings to operate at low cost without draining an extensive amount of resources. For example, Resync’s intelligent energy management cloud platform helps buildings to achieve up to 30% savings on energy consumption and reduce carbon footprint by up to 10%. According to an energy efficiency impact report between the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, carbon emissions in the US could be reduced by 50% by 2050, should buildings invest in energy efficient tech.

Use of renewable energy to remain sustainable - Smart buildings that utilise renewable energy are more capable of meeting sustainability goals as they do not rely on scarce resources such as fossil fuels that when burned, release large amounts of pollutants into the air and eventually contribute to global warming. To circumvent the effects of climate change and reduce overall carbon emissions, smart buildings rely on technology that is driven by carbon neutral practices. One example of carbon neutral practice is the adoption of alternative sources of energy such as renewables (e.g. solar energy). The use of solar panels is more environmentally sustainable as it enables buildings to convert sunlight into electrical energy. As buildings are key contributors of carbon emissions essentially accelerating climate change, building operators are facing increasing pressure and regulations to adopt such net zero emissions solutions.

Use of specialised water systems to boost water efficiency - Water is a resource that is heavily used in facilitating a building’s operations. Conserving water is key to saving energy as energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water into buildings. Thus, reducing water usage can positively impact our carbon footprint. Smart building technology and design have paved the way for smart water management systems. For example, smarter plumbing systems use advanced hydraulic modeling techniques for low-flush toilets to eliminate waste in water channels more efficiently with minimal usage of water. Water-efficient irrigation systems are also increasingly relevant in buildings that have incorporated natural elements such as plants, as part of the building’s architectural design. For these buildings, intelligent water-efficient innovations such as a zoned irrigation system ensures optimal efficiency of water usage as water is irrigated separately, according to each plants’ water intake. By catering specifically to the amount of water needed, the building is able to optimise water usage in the long term, boosting its water efficiency capability. In Singapore, the 2030 Green Plan encourages the entire nation to work towards being a net zero carbon emissions nation. The aim is for at least 80% of buildings to remain sustainable throughout the building’s life cycle. In order to achieve this, Singapore is enforcing more stringent environmental sustainability standards for new and existing buildings alike. Smart buildings that deploy IoT sensors and devices to conserve energy, utilise advanced tech platforms and softwares to reduce energy consumption, switch to renewables and install specialised water efficiency systems are at an advantage of benefiting the environment. Smart buildings today are thus better equipped to remain sustainable and meet present needs without compromising the environment or the ability of future generations to meet their needs.










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