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What real estate owners and managers need to know about combining business benefit and sustainability

In the Nordic countries, real estate property – residential, commercial and industrial buildings – accounts for 30–40% of the countries’ total consumption.

Timo Karpola / August 23, 2019

The concept of distributed energy systems has been a discussion topic for more than 10 years. Renewable energy has been talked about even longer. Most of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings and in cities – most of which have ambitious carbon neutrality goals. Yet, ten years later, we are nowhere near carbon neutrality.

In the Nordic countries, real estate property – residential, commercial and industrial buildings – accounts for 30–40% of the countries’ total consumption.

When approximately 70 per cent of global energy production is consumed in cities, no wonder cities want to be at the forefront of sustainable development and have ambitious sustainability roadmaps. Owing to their northern location where a significant portion of energy is used for heating, the Nordic cities are particularly interested in solutions that lead to more efficient energy solutions while enabling more renewable energy sources. Real estate, however, still have a long way to go towards carbon neutrality.

Two major challenges

Because buildings in cities usually have been constructed within a wide timeframe, their structures, energy efficiency, technology and automation vary wildly. In such a heterogenous environment, it is difficult to create energy solutions that scale to the entire property base.

The second challenge involves property owners and managers. They have a hard time buying solutions, because they do not know what the optimal solutions are that they should buy and what is available in the first place.

The right way to the right solutions

The buyers need enough information to be able to prepare RFPs that interest several providers and bring about genuine competition. For this, they should turn to experts who can look at the problem holistically, from power generation through distribution to onsite micro-production, demand response and even the buildings’ indoor comfort. An important part of the process is knowing how to evaluate the investment.

The solution provider ecosystem needs to look at the issue end-to-end. Real benefits are not created by part-optimisation, such as optimising one building or a city block. Everything from controlling production to controlling building technology in real time must be considered. Efficiency, cost benefit and sustainability will come from a big-enough networked property base.

New technology will enable this. Huge amounts of data can be collected throughout the generation-to-consumption chain. When it is analysed and augmented with data from external sources, such as weather forecasts, predictive control patterns emerge. The distributed energy system can then anticipate coming situations and manage the entire chain in a way that brings optimal benefit.

Holistic energy management

Especially in harsh climate conditions where heating is important, managing the end-to-end energy chain is important. Even more so when it is predicted that city heating in the Nordics, now generated 90% by district heating, will “electrify” due to improving heat pump and heat recovery technologies.

Efficient, sustainable energy management will require a holistic management layer on top of building automation and other sub-systems, considering the varied individual building properties. This is totally doable through advanced digital solutions. The good news is that they already exist.

The time to act was yesterday

Countries and cities have their climate goals. Solutions already exist, but most focus on part-optimisation. With 10 to 15 years to make the ambitions a reality, there is no time to waste.

Integrating all the part-optimisation solutions requires a knowledgeable partner who knows how to bring together production, distribution, “behind-the-meter” micro-production, consumption management, demand response, all the way to indoor conditions.

Make decisions now. Get in touch

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Timo Karpola
Head of New Energy Services

Timo has more than 10 years of experience in the fields of energy utilities and manufacturing industries in the Nordics. He has vast knowledge of industries’ business transformation, changing value networks, and building new revenue models. Timo is an out-of-the-box thinker, driven by digitalization. He is on a mission to help companies transform and find new business within the rapidly emerging renewable energy driven ecosystems.

Author

Timo Karpola

Head of New Energy Services

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