The Battle to Control the Buildings Energy Systems

The Battle to Control the Buildings Energy Systems

Eric Morel 18/11/2018 4

Our minds have been influenced for years by a world that was a priori based on simple concepts: the buildings energy systems were controlled by the electrician (and therefore by the electrical equipment manufacturers) and by the heating contractor (and therefore by the suppliers of heating solutions).

Their control however was exercised differently: in a building, the electrical distribution is pervasive: the electrician is therefore unavoidable, and he can impact all occupants. However, he intervenes only in case of works aiming at renewing, improving or completing the installation. The evolution of standards, tending to impose ever more technologies, has ensured him a regular presence.

Heating equipment is , in comparison, often very localized and allows limited control of the overall energy installation. Technological developments are less frequent and the pace of replacement of facilities slower. The heating engineers nevertheless ensured a regular presence within the buildings thanks to the maintenance contracts.

This small world has consolidated its positions over time until it is the target of many disruptions:

  • The possible use of direct current in office buildings could change the situation for electricians.
  • Solar photovoltaic breaks the barriers between heat and electricity and forces more and more installers to be both electrician and heating engineer
  • The development of automation and an integrated approach to energy in buildings requires additional enrichment of skills.

The actors able to claim from now their ability to control the buildings energy systems are more and more numerous:

  • Local power or heat producers (with solar photovoltaic or cogeneration, are perceived as starting point of the distribution of the energy. They have a permanent link with consumers through the billing of the energy produced.
  • The charging stations, installed in the car parks of the buildings, gradually dethrone the heating of the dominant position among energy applications. They are the entry point in the building, not only for their suppliers, but also for car manufacturers whose batteries, associated with the charging stations, can appear as the basis of the energy system of the buildings of tomorrow.
  • Heating contractors that now install and maintain power and heat production facilities
  • Electrical installers cannot ignore PV, storage and heating

But also

  • PV Panel Installers
  • Companies specialized in the energy renovation of buildings
  • Service operators, within buildings or groups of buildings etc …

The relationship between product manufacturers and installers was simple: each industry had its network of installers. Today, installers must rely on several manufacturers because their field of action has expanded considerably, and manufacturers must be inventive to retain and sustain its network of installers, courted from all sides.

Driven by technological developments, the struggle for controlling energy in buildings has begun between new entrants, who now feel legitimate, and historical players, who have everything to lose. Let us hope that it gives birth to a level of service and optimization unknown until then and does not translate into a decline in quality and safety!

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  • Mark Burnett

    Energy drifts are common in buildings as they age and components start working less efficiently.

  • Emma Sharland

    The sooner an energy drift is detected, the easier it is to fix through repairs or upgrades, ensuring energy isn’t wasted.

  • Luke Murphy

    Cost savings can be thousands of dollars per year.

  • Jordan Rodgers

    At this point, it has become easier for people to find areas of high energy use to make improvements.

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Eric Morel

Energy Expert

Eric Morel is a worldwide recognised expert of energy transition and digitalisation. In the past, he has served as VP Corporate Business Strategy and VP Global Smart Grids and Energy Efficiency at Schneider Electric as well as CEO of Ilevo, a telecommunication start-up. He is a founding member and a former Board member of the Gridwise Alliance, the main professional private/public association dedicated to Smart Energy.

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