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Not just saving energy, but managing itAn interview with KNX CTO Joost Demarest

Joost Demarest, CTO, KNX Association

With buildings the main driver of rising energy consumption, their energy management has become a pivotal element of a sustainable future.

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the KNX Association, Joost Demarest, recently discussed the importance of buildings starting to proactively manage their energy consumption, and the future of the energy industry, with Bob Snyder from Channel Media (chair of ISE’s Smart Building Conference). Here is a summary of the interview; you can watch the interview at the end of the article.

The rapid rise of energy consumption in buildings demands a sustainable approach

According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), buildings account for nearly one-third of global final energy consumption and 55% of global electricity demand. The last 25 years saw the growth of energy needs for buildings make up 60% of the total growth in global electricity consumption. As this increasing need for energy in buildings all around the world continues, it has become even more important to look beyond just efficiency of energy consumption within a building but also making them more sustainable.

Joost Demarest shares how KNX has moved on from the traditional approach of maximising energy efficiency in homes or buildings to now adopting the sustainable outlook that is the need of the hour. This includes practising energy management enabled by digital technologies that have transformed the energy industry in the last decade or so. Energy management is the proactive approach to planning, monitoring and optimising all aspects of energy – from power generation to consumption or storage.

Providing the specific example of office buildings, Demarest outlines the aforementioned transition from energy efficiency to energy management by KNX. Smart devices and advanced communication & data capabilities, thanks to the digitalisation revolution, have enabled buildings to estimate their energy needs and manage it accordingly. Additionally,  rising energy prices have prompted businesses to look into producing energy locally with renewable energy sources and reduce reliance on the power from energy generation stations that are not consistent with their pricing. With smart systems, such as building energy management systems (BEMS), the energy demands of a building can be synchronised with the different energy sources to maximise energy savings. This shift towards locally generated energy with renewable sources has given a boost to the movement to making homes and buildings more self-sustainable.

Energy management and its possibilities

“Measuring is wisdom”, Demarest states as he underscores the importance of having a clear understanding of the energy consumption behaviour in order to really manage energy in the best way possible. Linking KNX solutions to metering and sub-metering of a building has allowed for a much richer energy management practices. In order to identify the ways in which a building can improve its energy efficiency, there needs to be a better understanding of the way the current usage of energy takes place. Smart meters are thus a crucial element for any energy management that is planned for a building.

KNX and its members have, over the years, been able to go much deeper into measuring and managing energy of buildings. As mentioned before, KNX started with a focus on energy efficiency and specialised in improving the heating, ventilation, and air condition within in specific rooms or sections of a building. But over the years, there has been a shift from energy efficiency to energy management and smart devices have enabled automation.

The members of KNX have even started to develop solutions that measure the energy consumption down to the level of circuits within installations. This shows that the capabilities of energy management has both broadened and deepened. And he is certain that these possibilities will only go on to grow from here. The administrators or building owners thus can be more confident, efficient, and flexible in their energy management practices.

KNX energy management applications and projects

There is a rising demand for energy management systems to become more sophisticated. With the emergence of smart grids, smart homes or buildings coupled with independent renewable energy sources and electric car charging stations, the energy ecosystem is becoming more complex than ever before.

This is why KNX has ventured into the domain of applications for better energy management. Demarest mentions how a central intelligence unit, for example the KNX customer energy manager, is pivotal for an efficient and uninterrupted energy usage. They also make sure the storage of independently generated energy to be managed well. These applications can handle bidirectional information and energy flow between the infrastructure and the smart grid to ensure stability of smart grids or between various charging stations from different manufacturers to align and rightly optimise the charging of electric vehicles.

Demarest also shares a sneak peek into KNX’s ambitious project of 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. He is also excited about the possibilities of KNX IoT and believes it can open doors for much smarter solutions and automations that improve the current capabilities of energy management.

As for people who wish to learn more about energy management and how they can implement them with KNX solutions, Demarest urges them to check out KNX’s E-campus that can help them to enter the world of KNX’s energy management. It provides all the basic tools and knowledge for even a beginner to start practising the implementation of energy management solutions with KNX.

A final word: The new reality of energy management is here

The pace of digitalisation in the energy sector is increasing, resulting in improved safety, productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of energy systems. In addition, public awareness of living in a more sustainable world has increased in a way that it is changing markets, causing new business models to emerge. KNX is already working with this new reality, and offers an exciting range of energy management applications, devices and solutions. It is up to the businesses and organisations to make sure that the infrastructure that they rely on for their functioning and representation is a sustainable one.

Watch the interview with Joost Demarest here:

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