3 Technologies That Are Helping Buildings Get Off the Grid


Commercial and residential buildings are a substantial contributor to climate change, accounting for 11 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. The average building wastes almost 30 percent of the energy it consumes through inefficient processes and management. These figures reflect the need for a solution, sooner rather than later.

Fortunately, excessive emissions and energy usage have a wide variety of solutions that are both available and accessible. Commercial property owners can reduce their environmental impact with systems and software that are increasingly affordable with each passing year, alleviating past concerns over pricing. 

In short, the transition toward renewable sources of energy is easier than ever. The three technologies below have incredible potential for the future of green energy, and through their integration, commercial building professionals can see a dramatic change in our ability to get buildings off the grid.

Solar Thermal

3 Technologies That Are Helping Buildings Get Off the Grid

Fluid Solar House in Adelaide, Australia. Rendering by www.myenergysolar.com.au

A four-story office building in Australia has employed a combination of technologies to reach its sustainability goals. Of these technologies, solar thermal is one of the most interesting — and promising — solutions they've chosen to integrate. It's a slight deviation from the average installation, but just as effective.

These solar thermal collectors work by heating rainwater accumulated at the site to between 140 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit, storing it in a 10,000-liter insulated box. In winter, they use the heated water to warm the building directly, and in summer, they use it to dry the air and run evaporative cooling.

Since the system collects, stores and uses solar energy as heat, the process is efficient and cost-effective. This small innovation will assist companies in moving to renewable sources of energy, and efforts are currently underway to retrofit the system to existing buildings.

Storage Systems

3 Technologies That Are Helping Buildings Get Off the Grid

Energy Storage System. Image by www.energystoragenetworks.com

Renewable energy sources have positive and negative aspects, and it's essential to consider both sides of these technologies. Their variability in energy production is troubling to business owners, and they cite outages and performance issues as some of the primary reasons for not making the transition.

Storage systems address this issue, allowing organizations to offset their reliance on the grid while ensuring enough power is available when they need it. Installation is straightforward, connecting a large battery system to the building's existing electrical infrastructure. It works with solar, wind and cogeneration.

The way the battery system works is straightforward as well. It stores excess energy for later use, and when generation drops below a certain threshold, the battery provides the extra power the building needs to maintain its operations. With storage, the buildings will run more efficiently off renewable energy as well.

BEMS Software

3 Technologies That Are Helping Buildings Get Off the Grid

Building energy management systems software — otherwise known as BEMS software — enables property owners and managers to monitor their energy usage. The application continually collects and analyzes a large amount of information related to lighting, heating, cooling and other systems in a building.

BEMS applications are beneficial for detecting "energy drifts," which refer to the changes in energy usage over time. These energy drifts are common in ageing properties with older components that are no longer as efficient as they once were. When they break down, owners and managers can attend to the problem.

With access to data from BEMS software, those involved with improving a building's efficiency can effectively meet their sustainability goals. They can use it to visualize important information and act accordingly. Given time, the application can assist with reducing emissions and adapting to renewable energy.

Getting Off the Grid

Commercial buildings are a substantial contributor to climate change, but through the three technologies above, this can change. We can transition to renewables and reduce our buildings’ environmental impact with today's solutions.

Those interested in these systems and programs should set aside time to research their options. Renewable energy has value for commercial properties, and with each passing day, it will become more accessible and easier to make the switch.

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