KNX on solutions for sustainability
What is the scale of the challenge facing us as we try to move towards a more sustainable future?
According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), buildings account for nearly one-third of global final energy consumption and 55% of global electricity demand. Over the last 25 years, 60% of the total growth in global electricity consumption came from buildings. As this increasing need continues all around the world, it has become even more important to look beyond just energy efficiency within buildings to making them more sustainable.
This requires a change from passive measures (such as fitting double-glazed windows, replacing halogen bulbs by LEDs) to active ones (maximising energy efficiency in homes or buildings by using basic smart devices such as timers, thermostats and presence sensors to switch off the lighting, heating or air-conditioning in a room when there is nobody inside it).
Optimising energy consumption is the most obvious aspect of making a building more sustainable, but what are the other elements?
Beyond optimising consumption, we need to look at Energy Management, which is a proactive approach for planning, monitoring, and optimising all aspects of energy: such as replacing fossil sources of energy by renewables, generating our own energy, storing unused excess energy generated, or converting energy into hot water.
Energy Management using KNX allows a system to supply uninterrupted energy according to the needs of users at any given time. This same system can also decide on the best use of energy in the home or building, starting from its generation through to whether it should be consumed or stored, according to the key parameters of being efficient and preferring energy from renewable sources.
KNX has recently been extended with new application domains in the arena of energy management, which are expected to increase in the near future. Functionalities include:
- Connecting and prioritising renewable energy sources into smart homes and buildings
- Monitoring and controlling energy to decrease the unnecessary use of fossil fuels. For example, why charge the battery of an electrical vehicle at night, when it will not be used first thing in the morning? The system can delay charging until the first hour of the morning, when the photovoltaic panels will be generating energy
- Energy storage monitoring with bidirectional information flow to/from KNX
- Connecting charging stations to KNX to indicate if they are occupied or free, display the charging progress, set charging limits in terms of time or power, report errors, and communicate securely thanks to KNX Secure technology
- Stabilisation of the smart grid. KNX can help the grid to be smart when it cannot meet the energy demands of connected homes and buildings
- After all the demands have been supplied, converting surplus generated energy into hot water for use later
Please describe a couple of examples of solutions that promote more sustainable practices and use KNX technology.
For some years, we have seen a new wave of energy management devices launched to the market, such as e-charging devices for electrical vehicles, battery storage units for smart homes, and smart metering devices to control the loads. A short list of these products can be found on our webpage: https://sustainabilityknx.org/#what
In addition, we saw an increase in projects participating in the Energy Efficiency category of the KNX Awards, celebrated in September 2022. The winner of this category was a smart residence project in Mexico. It combined smart devices to automate functions to save as much energy as possible in all facilities; the total savings reached were up to 60% across the whole house.
In the commercial sector, there is an ambitious KNX project at Al-Maktoum International airport in Dubai. The project aims to use KNX solutions as a foundation for energy efficiency and energy management for the whole airport.