Smart buildings are pivotal for carbon neutral cities

Smart buildings for carbon neutral cities

Residents in New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and St. Louis should better pay attention to local regulations limiting large buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage. As reported by Smart Cities Dive, these five cities will soon start to fine building owners who fail to comply with newly enacted or updated rules.

In New York, fines will start in 2024 for commercial buildings larger than 25,000 gross square feet exceeding the GHG emission limits set by the Climate Mobilization Act. San Francisco unveiled the goal of zero GHG emissions from large buildings by 2035, while specific emission and energy consumption standards will apply in Washington D.C. for privately owned buildings larger than 50,000 square feet starting 2026.

The decarbonization of buildings is a multifaceted challenge and, despite the urgent call for climate action in cities, it seems like the gap between building performance and the decarbonization targets is widening. According to the latest report by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, in 2021 operational energy demand for heating, cooling, lighting and equipment in buildings increased by around 4% from 2020 and 3% from 2019.

The building sector is seeking sustainable innovation. The use of alternative materials is increasingly explored, together with the integration of energy generation systems and CO2 capture and storage technologies. Today, a growing number of large buildings features IoT-enabled Building Management Systems (BMS) to monitor and control key equipment for lighting, heating, cooling, and video surveillance, as well as occupancy levels and operational effectiveness.

Tenants, building owners, and management operators can benefit from connected sensors, algorithms, and advanced analytics to live and work in a safer and more efficient environment. Lights are automatically switched off or dimmed if nobody is around, heating and cooling are adjusted to minimize power consumption without compromising individual comfort. These Smart Buildings technologies are successful in minimizing the environmental impact and the consumption of natural resources such as energy and water.

Energy-efficient buildings also generate cost saving opportunities and are even more inclusive. Think of automated door opening, voice control devices, and fall detection systems, providing easier accessibility for disabled people.

Smart buildings are pivotal for carbon neutral cities, said the UN Environment Programme during recent COP27 Climate Summit. Let’s not forget the building sector accounts for over 34% of overall energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions.


climate adaptation

World Cities Day 2022: climate adaption for a global sustainable future

The upcoming COP27 climate summit, starting November 6th in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, does not welcome good news. Scientific evidence shows that the planet’s warming is accelerating and 2022 will rank among the 10 warmest years on record. Although countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, their efforts remain insufficient, and the world is on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, well above the recommended threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

COP27 is expected to discuss and find solutions in five key action areas specifically nature, food, water, industry decarbonization, and climate adaptation. Let’s focus on the last one, climate adaptation.

About 3.3 billion people live in highly fragile climate contexts, and the most vulnerable communities – who are least responsible for climate change – are directly and massively impacted. At COP27, climate adaptation will be at the center of talks, calling for cities to play a big, decisive role.

Act Local to Go Global” is indeed the theme of World Cities Day 2022, celebrating today (October 31st) and recognizing the critical role of urban areas in achieving a global sustainable future. "We have only about 87 months, 380 weeks or 2600 days left to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The best way to do so is by ensuring our cities and communities are sustainable. Time to act is now,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

“Across a range of critical goals from poverty and hunger to gender equality and education we are not seeing progress, but backsliding. The consequences are dramatic: escalating climate chaos, growing poverty, rising inequalities, and more. We must change course and we can. This year’s theme of World Cities Day highlights how: ‘Act Local to Go Global.’ The goals are global in scope, but implementation is local. And that means implementation happens largely in cities”, echoed UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

How can cities locally act for climate adaptation? The Global Commission on Adaptation suggest the implementation of early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, and nature-based solutions, leveraging smart technologies to strengthen efforts and maximize results. The same Commission estimated that a global investment of $1.8 trillion globally in climate adaptation measures could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits by 2030.

 

Looking for innovative solutions to turn your city in a sustainable, climate-resilient community? PE Smart Urban Network can contribute to saving up to 80% power and related GHG emissions in streetlighting, improve parking management and solid waste collection, integrate sensors for effective environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and emergency support. Join us at Smart City Expo World Congress (Barcelona, 15-17 November 2022) to learn more and enjoy live demonstrations!