Hong Kong: Digital and electric solutions can cut up to 70% of carbon emissions in office buildings, according to new research from Schneider Electric. Retrofitting buildings using a digital-first approach is the best pathway to decarbonisation, revealed the new research.
Buildings represent an estimated 37% of global carbon 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, the study pointed out.
Digital and electric solutions
Deploying digital and electric power management solutions in existing office buildings could reduce their operational carbon emissions by up to 42% with a payback period of less than 3 years, the research claimed.
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 Mike Kazmierczak, VP of Digital Energy Decarbonization Office, a division of Schneider Electric.
The research carried out with the global design firm WSP, is based on modelling the energy performance and carbon emissions of a large office building built in the early 2000s across various U.S. Climate Zones.
Digital approach to building renovations
This digital approach to building renovations is, however, applicable to all building types and climates, and is, therefore, the most effective building decarbonisation strategy, yielding fast results with lower ‘upfront carbon’.
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.