There’s a growing awareness that sustainability initiatives go beyond the four walls of commercial, residential, industrial, or office buildings.
Infrastructures today contain numerous components that consume energy and add to an organization’s carbon footprint. In fact, buildings consume one-third of all energy globally and produce one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to The World Resources Institute. More specifically, in Canada, buildings account for 13% of Canada’s direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resulting in the built environment being the third highest source of emissions in the country.
With emissions trending upwards and the impacts of climate change at play, practices in favour of increased sustainability are crucial, evidenced through the creation of Canada’s Green Building Strategy. The ultimate goal of this strategy is to attain net-zero emissions and climate resiliency in the building sector by 2050. Its aim is to transform the built environment nationally and reduce costs to meet this goal. This strategy applies to both new builds, with tactics implemented from the start, and existing builds, with deep retrofits to enhance sustainability.
Canada’s Green Building Strategy emphasizes that environmentally conscious buildings are essential for a greener world. It is vital that sustainability practices are reflected in the physical components of buildings, and in a building’s operation. Significant advances in digital systems, like artificial intelligence, are making it possible to build and retrofit structures within the built environment to support maximum sustainability.
Artificial intelligence for improved sustainability
Artificial intelligence is key to unlocking a new level of sustainability in commercial real estate. It brings forth enormous energy and greenhouse gas saving potential for buildings. A resource that provides significant sustainability gains within the energy monitoring space are HVAC systems with artificial intelligence capabilities.
Intelligent HVAC systems make it possible to dive deeper into buildings and understand energy use in new ways. By learning the building’s behaviour, these systems can reliably predict when and how much energy should be used at a certain time, mitigating unnecessary energy consumption. Through its integration with artificial intelligence technology, HVAC systems constantly monitor a building’s static elements (e.g., thermal mass), fluid elements (e.g., internal heat sources like people and lighting) and external weather. These factors together with predictive real-time data are analyzed every two minutes to determine the optimal balance point temperature of a building.
The building’s existing building management system then receives this data to be utilized in aligning indicated HVAC set points. This enables correlated reactions with the real-time balance point temperature. As a result, HVAC fluctuations are reduced; unwarranted system overlaps are removed, and misplaced energy use is lessened (e.g., heating and cooling an area more than another). Improving efficiency within buildings in this manner eliminates needless energy consumption, favouring highly energy efficient operations that lower GHG emissions.
Artificial intelligence for the future
Artificial intelligence is a powerful driving force that can successfully guide the built environment towards net-zero emissions. These easily implementable climate-friendly technical innovations offer the greatest possible outcome when employed nationally, leading to the development of a greener environment within Canada’s building sector.