Most building owners and operators face twin, interrelated pressures to improve the energy efficiency in their buildings: energy costs and carbon emissions.

There’s good news on this front – globally, buildings have made some solid progress at lowering their energy intensity.

The bad news is that despite this, CO2 emissions from buildings increased in 2021 to above pre-pandemic levels, with building energy demand growing by 4 percent compared to 2020. That represents the largest increase in the last decade, according to an analysis by the United Nations Environmental Programme. Even worse? CO2 emissions from building operations have reached an all-time high of around 10GtCO2, about a 5 percent increase over 2020 and 2 percent higher than the previous 2018 record.

That ain’t good.

Building operations account for 30 percent of global final energy consumption and 26 percent of global energy-related emissions, according to IEA. That’s no surprise to anyone who owns or operates a large building, or to energy and sustainability managers. They understand the significant energy requirements of places like office towers, hospitals, college campuses and manufacturing facilities, largely driven by heating and cooling for occupant comfort or process control.

The United Nations has concluded that the building and construction sectors will not achieve the goal of decarbonization by 2050. What’s more, the UN concludes that the gap between the actual climate performance of the sector and the decarbonization pathway is widening.”

That also ain’t good.

As the climate warms, we are seeing increased demand for building cooling, which in turn drives greater energy consumption and emissions, which leads to ever more emissions. It’s a vicious circle.

New Solutions

It’s clear that buildings need new and better solutions to energy efficiency.

The fact is energy consumption and the resulting emissions from the building sector is drawing considerable scrutiny from regulators. New York City will begin imposing financial penalties on buildings that exceed their emission limits, one of about 30 US cities phasing in stricter emissions and efficiency requirements. That will create even more urgency for building owners to improve energy efficiency in their buildings.

That is often easier said than done. What can an owner do to improve energy efficiency in their buildings that isn’t cost-prohibitive? What smart business decision can they make that boosts their bottom line while cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions, particularly when it comes to heating and cooling?

Most building control systems don’t offer real opportunities to assess and improve energy use for heating and cooling. They often lack the programming and processing power needed to proactively manage energy consumption.

Technology offers one important path forward. SHIFT Energy has been developing innovative energy management solutions built through Machine Learning, a subset of Artificial Intelligence. These solutions work with existing building control systems and HVAC equipment to boost performance, cutting energy consumption and the resulting carbon emissions.

This new generation of energy management works without capital expenditures and, with its quick deployment time, can deliver a payback of well under two years. It means both lower energy costs and lower carbon emissions (and avoiding the penalties that will be associated with that).

This type of pragmatic solution delivers economic and sustainability benefits that will help building owners contribute to the fight against climate change while cutting their operating costs – doing good and doing well.

Want to learn more? Drop us a line and we’ll chat.