This Week in Sustainability: Net Zero and Smart Buildings and Smart Cities

| Josh Henretig

netzeroWhile architects and engineers have long designed buildings for sustainability, they are increasingly looking at ‘Net Zero’ buildings that have net zero energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to GreenBiz, several new Net Zero buildings are actively considering the role of building occupants rather than simply relying on design features. Plug loads, the amount of energy consumed by devices plugged into electrical sockets, are crucial to energy savings. And IT can play a major role in managing how building occupants use plug load. Technology solutions can be used to improve occupant’s behaviors include a dashboard panel that monitors temperature and wind speed and tells building occupants with a simple red or green light whether they should open doors and windows to improve ventilation in the building. Triple Pundit also looked at how thermostats can impact energy efficiency—another issue where occupant behavior can make a big difference in efficiency. More than $200 billion annually is spent to power commercial buildings in the U.S. and another $200-plus billion to power industrial facilities. Better thermostat control equipment can help building managers find the best strategy for regulating a building’s temperature and ultimately make their buildings smarter.clip_image004

GreenBiz also featured a fascinating piece on the opportunity for technology to help increasingly dense cities be more livable and have less of an environmental impact. Currently, cities are home to approximately 3.6 billion people and are responsible for 70 percent of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. It is projected that by 2050, city dwellers will dramatically increase to 6.3 billion—nearly the size of today’s global population. By 2025, it is expected there will be 37 “megacities” that support populations of more than 10 million people. Technology can be used to create smart cities that are able to provide a positive living environment in densely populated areas. Many smart city initiatives are still in experimental stages, but it’s clear that local governments and the private sector will need to work together more closely to make smart cities a reality.

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