Digital and Electric Solutions can Cut Carbon Emissions in Office Buildings by Up To 70% - Schneider Electric
By Sustainability Matters October 4, 2023
- Research finds retrofitting buildings using a digital-first approach is best pathway to decarbonisation
- Potential to drive new job opportunities also evident from academic research
Retrofitting buildings using a digital-first approach is the best pathway to decarbonisation, according to new research from Schneider Electric.
The operations of buildings account for 30% of global final energy consumption and 26% of global energy-related emissions, and as about half of today’s buildings are still likely to be in use in 2050, the sector must urgently reduce operational carbon emissions by making buildings more energy efficient.
Schneider Electric says its research shows that deploying its digital building and power management solutions in existing office buildings could reduce operational carbon emissions by up to 42% with a payback period of less than three years. Further, if fossil fuel-powered heating technologies are replaced with electric-powered alternatives, and a microgrid with local renewable energy sources is installed, all-electric, all-digital buildings will see an additional 28% reduction in operational carbon emissions resulting in a total reduction of up to 70%.
“Tackling operational emissions is the number-one lever to decarbonise existing buildings at scale and achieve net-zero emissions targets by 2050. This breakthrough research reveals that reducing carbon emissions by up to 70% is feasible if we transform our existing building stock into energy-efficient, fully-electrified and digitised assets” said Eugene Quah, Country General Manager of Malaysia at Schneider Electric.
The research modelled the energy performance and carbon emissions of a large office building built in the early 2000s across various U.S. Climate Zones and was carried out with the global design firm WSP, but Schneider says that the findings are applicable to all building types and climates.
Renovating through the deployment of digital technologies is not only less disruptive to daily operations, but also more effective from a lifecycle carbon perspective. Failing to rapidly decarbonise buildings could also result in stranded assets that lose value and are unattractive to both investors and tenants. Transitioning to low-carbon buildings also presents job creation opportunities, with recent research finding that more than 2 million new job opportunities can be generated in Europe and the United States from addressing electricity, heating and storage in low-carbon buildings.
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