With all the COP26 news last month, there was a lot to digest. One thing you may have missed was that in the United Nation’s ‘SDG7’ pavilion an initiative was quietly released that we think will have a global impact – the launch of the 24/7 Carbon-free Global Energy Compact. Buildings Alive is one of the 40 founding signatories on the compact, focussed on one aim – that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumption is met with carbon-free electricity sources, every hour of every day, everywhere. Achieving this aim is not simple, but it is what we are focussing our development efforts on at Buildings Alive.

At the moment, there are multiple jigsaw pieces – spot prices that are low when renewable energy is high, low grid carbon intensities in the middle of sunny days, building HVAC loads that largely follow the pattern of the sun, peak/off-peak electricity tariffs that often don’t reflect spot prices. While these pieces vary across different geographies, the theme is the same – multiple pieces that are not yet working in unison.

Cleaner air with fewer emissions

An example of where these jigsaw pieces haven’t yet fully been joined is the ventilation-response to the pandemic. As workers return to their office, with some level of COVID-19 circulating in the community, ventilation is under the spotlight. Recommendations can include increasing the ventilation volumes during the day when the building is occupied – something that can result in significant increases in energy consumption. At the moment, that would result in higher costs, worse building energy ratings and higher reported carbon emissions. However, if in your location there is significant amounts of solar energy in the grid during the day, spot prices are likely low (or even negative) and the carbon intensity is likely low as well. In this situation, if the pieces are all in place, changing the ventilation strategy may not penalise the building – and could even benefit it.

Where to from here?

In the coming months, Buildings Alive will be working with our strategically-minded customers and partners to continue the release of functionality which is joining these jigsaw pieces. The grid is undergoing an immense transformation that is only going to accelerate over the next few years. The returns from responding to these changes in 2022 will increase in 2023 and beyond, but it’s important to start now.

Buildings Alive is proud to be one of the 40 founding members of the 24/7 Carbon Free Energy Compact. We look forward to working with other signatories, our clients and partners to ensure every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumption is met with carbon-free electricity sources, every hour of every day, everywhere.