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February 6, 2023


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Eaton: ‘Top trends to watch for the buildings sector in 2023’

IFSEC Global hears from power management company, Eaton, as it outlines trends for the buildings sector in 2023.

Turbulent 2022 is now over and it’s time to look ahead at trends that will shape the commercial, industrial and residential buildings sectors in 2023. Unsurprisingly, energy is the overarching theme.

The risk of energy shortages that emerged in Europe as demand for electricity grew through the energy transition were deepened by the war in Ukraine, leading to an unprecedented supply squeeze and price volatility. The outcome is an ongoing national effort to boost energy security.

Reducing carbon emissions remains an equally pressing priority, with the United Nation’s COP27 meeting in November providing an urgent reminder – if one was needed – that while energy security is important, the need to mitigate climate change is an imperative. The buildings sector in the UK and Europe more broadly has much to consider as it responds to the demands that will be made of it in 2023.

Energy demand reduction

EnergyPowerPlant-CNISecurityPhysicalCyber-22Governments are working hard to manage both supply and demand. The independent think-tank, Bruegel, has prepared a country-by-country summary of the range of measures adopted which shows the diversity of approach: National fiscal policy responses to the energy crisis. For building owners across Europe, the common thread is the need to manage energy carefully and differently.

Strategic use of new technologies such as energy storage systems will be beneficial across a wide scope of building types. The benefits are multi-faceted and relevant to multiple stakeholders. For energy consumers there is the potential to fully utilise on site renewables and leverage reduced off peak energy costs. For grid based organisations, there is potential to reduce the size of connections required and have consumers offset peak demand, reducing pressure on the grid.

Upcoming Legislation

The UK Government is expected to bring forward Protect Duty Legislation in early spring, building on engagement across industry, charities and security experts, whilst reflecting the public’s views following the Home Office’s consultation that closed in July 2021.

The Legislation will involve a tiered system that factors in the type of activity taking place at a venue, as well as capacity. A standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100, and an enhanced tier will apply to those with a much greater capacity, where there could be the most damaging consequences. This system aims to cushion the blow to building owners, many of whom will need to make subsequent changes to their premises as they prepare preventative action plans against terrorism.

This is an area where innovative technology such as emergency lighting will not just be able to afford greater protection to the public, but will also provide the potential to reduce total cost of ownership/operation of safety critical systems, without compromising on performance.

Electric vehicles and renewables

e-Scooter-FireLithiumBattery-22Building owners are sometimes surprised when we discuss electric vehicle (EV) charging and renewables in the same conversation. It is not immediately obvious to them how EV charging infrastructure can boost grid stability and power resilience of a building – but that is exactly what can happen thanks to sector coupling which involves linking energy production more closely with energy consumption and making very efficient use of renewable energy.

This type of approach – we call it ‘Buildings as a Grid’ for commercial and industrial property, or ‘Homes as a Grid’ for residential property – turns a building into an energy hub and it is easily possible now. Expect to see more building owners taking this approach in 2023, as phase out dates for petrol and diesel vehicles get closer. Expect calls to become louder for national grids to permit bidirectional charging, too, as the owners of EV chargers see how they could make money by selling energy to the grid. (It is already allowed and popular in Norway).

We have also seen over the Christmas period, for arguably the first time, a situation where demand for EV chargers has outstripped supply and availability. Long queues seen at some public charging locations could be avoided in the future by investment in chargers near commercial buildings providing a valuable service to employees and the surrounding community which businesses can also benefit from through monetisation.

Beating the skills shortage

Specialist electrical skills are lacking across Europe, so training workforces to install the infrastructure needed for the energy transition is a priority everywhere. The nations of Europe will need to strive harder in 2023 to ensure the commercial, industrial, and residential buildings sectors are supplied with the skilled workers needed.

The delivery of strategies that will replace fossil fuels with a new energy mix, which will be much more heavily weighted towards renewables, will demand a lot of infrastructure work – and the people to do it. Automation and the adoption of efficient, repeatable work processes will help because it will enable fewer skilled people to achieve more.


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