Energy Regulation in Europe – Where to Begin?

Global warming is here, and as part of international policy to fight it, many countries have started setting regulations to ensure the long-term goals of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are met.

This article will review the Tertiary Decree regulation in France, which sets mandatory goals for all tertiary buildings to reduce their energy consumption consistently, decade after decade, by 2050. It may seem far, but clear to all that energy consumption reduction requires many changes, and unless starting today, objectives will not be met. For that reason, regulators also set some short-term goals of immediate action.

 What is the Tertiary Decree?

The tertiary decree sets objectives for reducing energy consumption in the tertiary sector at three milestones to reach a target consumption in 2050.  It, therefore, puts mandatory obligations on building owners and tenants to plan to implement tools for better management of the building operations and to start following best practices of energy optimizations in buildings.

In France, almost 700 million m2 are affected by this regulation.

Given the steady increase in the price of energy and the high percentage of electricity consumption in the tertiary sector, these obligations are also an opportunity to achieve long-term energy improvements that increase the market value of buildings. [RM1] 

Who is it related to, and what is required?

Owners and operators of buildings, public or private, whose cumulative area occupied by commercial activities are greater than 1000 m2 should start building a plan to reduce the final energy consumption of their building.

Two optional tracks are in place, with different models:

Achieve relative reduction of energy consumption compared to a base year:  Decrease of 40% by 2030, 50% by 2040, and 60% by 2050. The baseline measurement year cannot be earlier than 2010.

Achieve an absolute energy consumption value by 2050: meet an energy consumption value set by the regulator based on new buildings of the same category (structure, occupancy levels,  type of tenants, and other factors), expressed in absolute terms kWh/m²/year.

How can the building’s energy consumption be reduced?

There are many aspects to cutting the energy consumption of buildings. We’ll focus on one of the highest energy consumers – HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) systems.

In some cases, HVAC systems reach 70% of the overall building energy consumption.  Implementing best practices to save on the HVAC will surely make a significant step toward meeting the goals set by the regulations.

 The usage patterns of air conditioning and heating can heavily impact the energy balance. A temperature set point that is too low (summer) or too high (winter). A meeting room that is left for the night with its AC unit on. A clogged condenser that hardly cools the refrigerant and has to work extra hours and in higher intensity to do the work.  All these, and many other examples, can quickly increase the energy bill.

 Let’s see a few examples of how we can optimize the usage of the HVAC system in a way that will assure tenants’ comfort is met (this is still the building owner’s goal when putting HVAC systems in place…) side by side with optimizing the energy usage:

Implement policies that enforce usage patterns of the HVAC equipment by scheduling the HVAC operation hours to only the times and spaces that need cooling/heating.

Limit controls of units to only the range and functions needed for the space and tenant, side by side with assuring the system is working in its optimal capacity. Do not allow setting setpoints of extreme temperatures, completely restrict user settings changes when systems should be down (e.g., weekends), lock local wall thermostat from changing setpoint at some hours, and keep these only through central controls.

Continuous monitoring of the systems to ensure that equipment remains in optimal working conditions to guarantee the energy performance of the HVAC system. 

Using a power consumption monitoring system that alerts when consumption levels exceed pre-defined peak/expected consumption. This can be done at the building level and up to the specific indoor unit level.

Awareness – let the tenants see their working patterns and how it impacts energy consumption. Periodic reports can indicate anomalies in the usage patterns, which can be easily fixed and help use the HVAC systems more efficiently.

What can CoolAutomation offer under the Tertiary Decree?

 Many tenants share the HVAC system in buildings. The Tertiary Decree stipulates a shared responsibility of tenants and building owners. So, even as a tenant (e.g., a firm hosting a full floor in a building), you should be aware of the regulation and assure you do the maximum to optimize your HVAC usage.

 Depending on the occupancy structure of the building, an HVAC VRF system covers the heating and air conditioning needs of several tenants, each having slightly or significantly different usage needs:

Different operating and working times related to the nature of the industry and company standards.

Different setpoints related to individual preferences

Different setpoint related to special spaces (e.g., server rooms, gym).

 CoolAutomation suite of Cloud-Based HVAC monitoring & management solutions provides a set of tools for the building owners and managers to address some of these challenges:

 CoolAutomation energy metering solution allows the measurement of each indoor unit according to its actual operating usage. Therefore, the proportional consumption of an area occupied by a tenant using multiple indoor units can be calculated for this tenant out of the total system energy consumption.

An energy audit of the system, including individual consumption and operating parameters (setpoint, working hours, mode of operation of each unit), can be audited periodically and monitored throughout the year and over several years to reduce energy expenditure.

Periodic reports allow the building manager to see exactly how much time the systems were working in each period, what the site temperatures were, what mode it was operated on, and much more information.

Based on these reports, he can set operating policies for the building spaces.

 Controls restrictions to HVAC units – remotely from his mobile device or office desktop, the manager can set schedules, lock local thermostats, and limit setpoints – no need to navigate to another tool to do it or to walk to the room to set the wall thermostat.

 Set automation rules to automate systems operations – use sensors and dry contacts to correlate with system operation – limit HVAC operation when door/window is open, shut down space AC when unoccupied, turn off space cooling, and turn on fresh air system if outside air is cool enough and many more.

 Solutions for technical performance monitoring and Predictive maintenance – detect abnormally energy-intensive operations. By constantly recording technical parameter values, our software detects any variation in performance and alerts the site manager. The quick resolution, before the problem deteriorates, reduces the time the system was running in inefficient operation mode.

Supporting different VRF equipment from other manufacturers

CoolAutomation solutions are compatible with all VRF equipment from the various manufacturers.

Our solution will even make it possible to group units from different VRF systems from different manufacturers within an area of occupancy and measure their proportional energy consumption.


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