Connected Objects and Energy Saving: Fiction or Reality?

In the race to improve energy, the topic of buildings remains central: according to a study by ADEME, for municipalities in mainland France, they account for 81% of energy consumption and 72% of energy expenditure.

Especially since the ELAN (On Housing, Development and Digital Technology) Act introduced in 2018 a commitment to take energy-saving measures in university buildings, as detailed in the “Third Ordinance” (more details here): Local authorities must reduce the energy consumption of the buildings in question by 40% in 2030, 50% in 2040 and 60% in 2050.

Today, this obligation is limited to buildings, parts of buildings or groups of triplexes of more than 1,000 square metres. On the other hand, this dynamic initiated by the ELAN law is likely to affect a greater number of buildings, to take advantage of tools spread over large surfaces, to achieve more savings when possible, or even for the purpose of the model.

According to ADEME, only 21% of municipalities in 2019 had a tool to monitor energy consumption. However, better knowledge makes it possible to make a diagnosis, which often leads to initial savings, by identifying possible overconsumption. With this in mind, connected sensors are important allies, allowing consumption to be read at the meter level, or sub-metering at the scale of equipment or parts of buildings. Some Internet of Things Offers (The Internet of things to The Internet of things), like those of the operator Arteria, dedicated specifically to the local authority sector.

With the accuracy of variable information, often between 10 minutes and an hour, energy analysis becomes easier: do some buildings consume more than others under the same conditions? Is there equipment or rooms that consume a lot outside working hours? What is the distribution of consumption between heating, ventilation and uses?

The savings potential is often estimated at 10-25% of a community’s energy expenditure, although it is difficult to generalize due to the geographic and behavioral influence on this point, as well as recent status and actions related to public building stock. Thus, during the project of Saint-Sulpice-la-Forêt, a town of 1500 inhabitants from the urban area of ​​Rennes, the local authority achieved 20% savings in 4 years and then set a new goal of 40% savings within 3 years.

Finally, collecting data on consumption is also useful for measuring the impact of other improvement projects, whether they are changes in behavior or configuration, or more substantial energy renewal measures. It can also be a very tangible aid in prioritizing energy regeneration processes.

An example of a visualization of fluid consumption in buildings

In addition to simple knowledge of consumption, connected solutions can support improved consumption in community buildings:

  • By completing a jigsaw of available information, to adapt heating (temperature and humidity sensors) or ventilation (carbon dioxide sensors)2 and humidity) indoors;
  • By facilitating equipment maintenance thanks to predictive equipment maintenance solutions (boiler and ventilation);
  • By aligning the management of buildings with their actual use, thanks to presence sensors;
  • By allowing alarms to be raised in the event of abnormally high consumption, or outside certain time periods.

The durability and environmental impact of connected objects are both frequent and legitimate questions when it comes to controlling energy consumption. It is useful first of all to specify that these solutions are now sustainable from an economic point of view, even for communities of modest size: first of all because they can be accessed from a few thousand euros, such as Arteria Easy City solutions, but also because saving 5 to 10% of the energy bill is usually enough to make it profitable within 12 to 18 months.

Subsequently, technological innovations in recent years have led to a sharp decrease in the electrical consumption of connected sensors. These solutions based on “low-speed” connections enhance energy sobriety to allow for multi-year autonomy when running on batteries.

Finally, sustainability must also be included as a selection criterion for these connected solutions, by prioritizing equipment that is virtuous in terms of design and manufacture, but also that incorporates into its lifecycle the logic of material recycling.

Rising electricity and gas prices, the difficulty of predicting this rise, and new regulatory restrictions are all reasons that will push the energy issue to the fore in this municipal state, and possibly the presidential campaign.

In this context, solutions based on connected objects often make it possible to create “easy savings”, by modifying behavior or identifying faults. It is also part of a more global approach to improving the service offered to users, thanks to better equipment value and better comfort. Thus, “measure, analyze, act, and control” should become automated for societies targeting better control of their energy consumption.

It can also be envisaged taking these issues into account in the framework of a small scale operation, such as a simple experiment on the scale of a small group of buildings.

Indoor air quality: How effective are connected carbon dioxide sensors?Arteria is a subsidiary of RTE (Electricity Transmission Network), and for 18 years has been involved in the digital development of the regions by enhancing RTE’s telecommunications heritage (24,000 km of fiber optic networks, several thousand 3G/4G/5G high points). This fiber optic and high point network is available to all telecom operators, in particular to meet the needs of local authorities. Since 2017, Arteria has relied on innovative LoRaWANTM technology to deliver IoT services.

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