Developing urgency: empowering smart building technology for a sustainable future

Network solutions will play a significant role in developing sustainable, future-proof buildings and cities. Currently, smart building technology sits at the confluence of two growing trends: the continual migration of populations into city centres, and the crisis of climate change motivating sustainable infrastructure choices.

The climate crisis represents a threat to the future health of our planet. According to a 2021 report by the Climate Action Tracker group, the world is headed for 2.4°C warming by the end of the century, a trend which will continue to fuel more intense storms, heat waves, and droughts — driving instability at the foundations of human societies around the globe. Now is a critical time for sustainable practices to be implemented throughout our economic systems to reduce the impact of human activities on the planet.

As a result of this burgeoning crisis, governments are stepping in to curb their emissions with emissions targets. The UK and EU have set the goal of net zero by 2050, while also setting the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. These targets will shape economic choices in the years to come, especially in the face of the global trend of city migration.

City development is projected to grow dramatically over the next few decades as populations flow into cities. Over 68 per cent of humankind is expected to live in cities by 2050 — over 2.5 billion more than live in cities today. Cities will be forced to grow and, if they rely on traditional building solutions, will contribute excessive emissions. Currently, buildings contribute 39 per cent of annual global CO2 emissions. Most of these emissions come from operational carbon, or emissions produced by the building’s operation and energy consumption. The remaining emissions are embodied carbon, or emissions created from the manufacture, transportation, and construction of building materials. Continual migration into cities will drive demand for buildings, however meeting this demand will be constrained by the need to build and operate these buildings sustainably.

Smart buildings offer the solution to grow cities while meeting sustainability goals. For this reason, the global smart city industry is expected to double from 2020 to 2025, a growth from $410bn (€416.7bn) to $821bn (€834.4bn). The smart building market is expected to grow from $80.6bn (€82bn) to $328.6bn (€334bn) in 2029. Smart buildings require a networking backbone to allow all of the building’s Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, appliances, and systems to work in concert to efficiently monitor usage, waste, and consumption.

To enable smart buildings to run efficiently, Leviton produces innovations in network architecture, like the uLAN™, to reduce operational emissions in smart buildings. As building systems like HVAC, lighting, security, communications, and consumer applications converge onto a smart building’s core LAN (Local Area Network), the network is burdened by every additional connection, adding stress to the network. The utility LAN, or uLAN, is a network architecture which enables greater efficiency in smart buildings, allowing them to cut operational emissions. Learn more about the uLAN and Leviton connectivity here.

Kennedy Miller is technology & sustainability manager at Leviton Network Solutions

This article was written as part of a paid content partnership with Leviton.


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