Energy monitoring systems increasingly popular in building retrofits

August 27, 2012

A growing number of organizations on both sides of the Atlantic are looking to finance retrofit projects for commercial buildings, and these renovations are increasingly including systems that monitor energy use.

According to Business Green, companies have realized that these real-time energy monitoring systems, along with smart grid technology, are an easy way to cut down on costs and consumption levels.

The market for these projects is expected to grow exponentially, and Pike Research noted that it will nearly double by 2020, expanding from an $80 billion sector to an industry worth roughly $152 billion.

According to the news outlet, the market for these energy efficient buildings is moving away from one-time retrofits toward a business model that relies on constant upgrades through the use of software and real-time monitoring.

"The reality in the building industry is that most of the technology needed to make buildings more efficient has already been developed," Eric Bloom, a senior analyst with Pike Research, said in the report. "This will spur a shift from one-time, labour-intensive retrofits to an ongoing stream of small improvement measures that will add up to a more efficient building over time."

The most popular retrofits are those that exist in the publicly-owned market, such as public universities and hospitals and government administration buildings.

"The building owners are more confident that they will in fact own a building through the entire payback period associated with an energy retrofit," said Bloom.

According to Business Green, the market is beginning to shift toward the U.S. and the Asia Pacific region, as the dominance of Western Europe in the sector is going to decline in the coming years.

Efforts in the U.S., like the Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), are beginning to demonstrate the cost benefits of making upgrades to commercial properties. This represents a shift away from the solely environmental angle that was taken by some advocates early on in the history of retrofitting structures.

The increased presence of technology in the sector is also removing some of the human error associated with monitoring energy use in buildings, according to Property Talk.

"Using software in this way has the potential to make our buildings much more energy efficient without having to rely on every single person using them in the correct manner," Professor Sunil Vadera, of the University of Salford, told the news outlet.