Greening ICT products, applications, services, and practices in buildings are both economic and environmental imperative, as well as our social responsibility. Therefore, a growing number of ICT vendors and users are moving towards green ICT and thereby assisting in building a green society and economy. With this in mind, consumers can achieve green savings on top of the efficiency gains resulting from automated systems.
Green ICT concept
Green ICT is drawing a lot of attention and it originates from its source “Green Computing”. However, “Green Computing” in the earlier stage was based on the idea that ICT is deeply related to high energy consumption as well as production of harmful materials and non-recyclable waste that do not decompose, and aimed at production of energy efficient, eco-friendly and recyclable ICT goods. Meanwhile, as environmental problems aggravate
recently, ICT is being expanded beyond the mere production of eco-friendly products, to becoming actively applied in dealing with environmental problems. Green ICT is also concerned now with developing and applying production processes or sharing in them with adequate attention being given to the environmental impacts.
‘Smart buildings’ is a term employed for a suite of technologies that use ICT applications to make the design, construction and, in particular, the use of buildings more efficient and convenient. Global emissions from buildings, including the energy used to run buildings, are estimated to be 11.7 GtCO2e by 2020 . It has also been estimated that ICT has the potential to reduce these emissions by 15%, i.e. by 1.68 GtCO2e.
A ‘smart grid’ is a solution with both software and hardware tools that can route electricity more efficiently. The smart grid allows the electricity to go in a two-way direction, which allows real-time two-way information exchange with customers for real-time demand-side management. In contrast, the energy distribution networks of today are relatively inefficient. These networks only allow one-way communication of the energy distribution from the energy provider to the user of energy. Furthermore, they have over-capacity in order to cope with unexpected surges in energy use.
Integration Technologies are used to enable different actors to collaborate and share knowledge, to enable different systems and tools to communicate with each other and to make it easy for the user of the system to install new tools and systems. The main concepts of ‘Integration Technologies’ are:
• Process integration
• System integration
• Inter-operability and standards
• Knowledge sharing
Process Integration – Process Integration as discussed in this section means the business relations between different actors and how that process can be made more effective, with less resource and energy usage as a result. Through it,
residents and building owners collaborate and share information about the building and its operating conditions to achieve high energy efficiency. The actors use ICT tools for the support of group work to collaborate in an efficient way. Current technologies are based on the assumption that all collaborating parties use the same platform.
System Integration – System Integration is a way of describing the communication between hardware and software in different systems and how the different parts fit together and communicate. The vision is that each new component in a building should be recognised automatically, which means that each new component can be easily connected and unnecessary components removed from the network (plug-and-play). Another, similar concept for easy system integration is Service Orientated Architecture (SOA), which makes it easier to integrate or remove different services from time to time. A common platform for the ‘building operation system’ rather than separate hardware as a host for the different software systems is preferable. Open information platforms and gateways can be
used to support external value-added software services to run on the platform and use information from the different subsystems.
Interoperability & Standards – In the building and construction sector there are many actors involved, each with many different ICT tools and systems for a variety of applications that need to share information. There is still a mismatch between the users’ need for interoperability and the ICT providers’ incentives to support it. If all information that is managed during a building’s usage phase were to be supported by an open BIM (Building Information Model) standard, stored in a single place and always updated and accessible to all actors, it would be easier to get proper data and to identify where energy savings could be made.
Knowledge sharing – Knowledge about energy-efficient solutions and practices is important for lower energy usage in buildings. If knowledge could be shared between actors in an easy way, it might open the way for more energy savings. Tools for access to knowledge such as e&m learning (electronically and mobile phone-supported learning and teaching), RSS feeds that push relevant information to users of buildings and community forums where sharing of experiences from different energy efficiency solutions and practices can become a breeding environment for new ideas. Other tools that are relevant in this field are knowledge management tools that are used to identify, collect, organise, share, adapt, use and create energy-efficient solutions and practices. Examples of such tools are: Model-based knowledge management, ambient access technologies, knowledge platforms and standards.