19 May 2022

Report urges standardisation of building data to reduce emissions

To coincide with Cities and the Built Environment Day at COP26, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has published a report on using data and smart technology to reduce emissions from buildings.

The report “Decarbonising building operations: Data as a driving force in reducing greenhouse gas emissions” makes the case for standardisation and increased sharing of information relating to how buildings are used by their owners and occupants.

The ability to use digital technologies, such as those associated with smart sensors, digital twins and cyber-physical systems will support better management and use of energy.

Effective data reporting and analysis can also identify spaces that can be used when a building is not occupied or is under occupied and therefore facilitate other uses for them.

The key is the role of information. The intention is that this information be used to inform the development and to implement robust design guidelines focused on greenhouse gas emission reductions, based on data which is properly sourced and understood.

The role of the government is clear: facilitating the development of data and information protocols or in bringing together the relevant partners in support of change and development.

“Improving energy efficiency of buildings has long been associated with low-tech solutions like insulation and more efficient appliances,” said Matt Rooney, Head of Policy at the Institution. “Opportunities to implement new advanced technology in addition to these gives the potential to accelerate progress in decarbonising buildings. By standardising and sharing data on building use, while also enforcing strict privacy rules, the increased employment of methods like digital twins and cyber-physical systems can both reduce emissions and make more productive use of our physical spaces.”