The Hive, the “headquarters” of Schneider Electric in Paris, is a striking building. Its name, which means the hive, in English, comes from its roof diapers, stationed there to do their bit to combat the intimidating disappearance of bees, which are the main responsible for pollination. However, this feature isn’t more than an anecdote if we face it to the other peculiarities of this building.
It may seem that today the adjective ‘smart’ with some lightness is used when applied to objects, but The Hive is really an intelligent building designed top down to fit like a glove to the needs of people who work every day in its interior, and, above all, to be efficient from an energy point of view. Schneider Electric has been used to achieve this much of the technologies that sells, and they seem to have worked: achieved reduce your electricity bill by 50%. But best of all is that these solutions can also be applied to the majority of our homes.
This is the starting point
By 2050 the number of people who live in big cities will be the current twice, reaching the 6,400 million urbanites. On the other hand, in 2025 66% of large cities will be located in countries with emerging economies. And, obviously, all the people who will live in them will need, at least, consume energy levels comparable to the big cities of today, what you could get in serious trouble to the global energy supply systems, and, what is worse, trigger very important, perhaps irreversible, disorders in the environment. Unless we change the rules of the game.
But, before we see what we can do and how it would affect our pockets, let’s a few details that help us define the scenario in which we find ourselves. Currently the buildings around the world consume 40% of the energy and 25% of the water I need human beings. If we return to the figures of the preceding paragraph while maintaining current levels of consumption we can guess effortless both medium-term energy as water will be two resource even more valuable and scarce than they are today. All the figures which I have managed so far come from studies of Schneider Electric, and allow us to get a fairly accurate idea of how is the stage at which we find ourselves, and how will evolve if we do not take measures.
Fortunately, we can be optimistic. It is true that the panorama does not paint very well if we do not optimize the consumption of two of the most valuable resources we have, energy and water, which, on the other hand, We are all entitled. But it is also true that we have technology solutions that allow us to be more efficient, and it is very likely that during the next few years many more (nuclear fusion is without a doubt one of our high hopes).
Buildings consume 40% of the energy and 25% of the water we need human beings
The innovations that have made The Hive not only an intelligent building, but also a highly efficient building from an energy point of view, can be implemented, in addition to in the office buildings, in our homes. But best of all is that thanks to them we will not only make better use of our resources and care more for the environment, but also save. In fact, Schneider Electric has managed to reduce their bill of light at its headquarters by 50%, as we anticipated at the beginning of the post. Secure all damaged by benefiting from savings like this, especially if we keep in mind that the price of energy will increase in the future in all likelihood.
Schneider Electric solution
An interesting note: The Hive was raised in 2011 as the first building in the world which obtained certification ISO 50001, which ensures efficiency and sustainable energy. The funny thing is that Schneider was installed on it in 2008, and until that time was a completely normal building, so the company decided to integrate in it much of its energy efficiency and automation solutions for, thus, reduce your environmental impact, save energy, and, why not say it, lower the electric bill, something that also comes in handy to large companies.
To reduce the electricity bill in half, it is necessary to «attacking» several fronts simultaneously: the electricity infrastructure (it is preferable to any other system of lighting LED lamps), monitoring and control systems, and the involvement of people who use the facilities. In fact, in regard to this last measure Schneider Electric defends that it is possible to save between 10 and 15% of energy without investing a single euro in technology; simply by changing the habits of the users. In any case, one of the innovations that have made possible that The Hive is an efficient building is the monitoring system designed to deliver information in real time about the system of air conditioning, heating, electricity, the State of occupation of each room, etc.
Knowing this information is very important for two reasons. The first is that allows us to adapt energy consumption our needs at a given moment, thus, eliminating superfluous spending. Presence control sensors are important in this scenario because they can identify whether or not a room is occupied at one time to activate or deactivate the air conditioner automatically, for example. And the second reason is that the monitoring system allows to detect any anomaly of consumption to determine its origin and to act accordingly.
We can save between 10 and 15% of the energy we consume only modifying our habits
In a facility such as the one of The Hive are involved «intelligent» thermostats, presence sensors, control panels and systems home automation, etc. As you can see, are innovations that have existed since long time (many of them closely linked to business of Schneider Electric), but what is really important is that when working in a coordinated manner can offer us a very remarkable energy costs reduction. But this is not all. It is also possible to use this technology to increase the quality of the air we breathe and improving the security of the building. According to Schneider, the air that is in the inside of The Hive has a fifty times higher than the foreign quality since your monitoring system controls the level of carbon dioxide in real time to allow the entry of air from the outside, previously leaked, when necessary.
And, as far as security is concerned, these facilities have doors with equipment of electronic lock that can be unlocked using a magnetic card or other identification system; alarms, cameras video surveillance, etc. In any case, the most interesting thing for most of us is the possibility of drastically reduce our spending on energy. We may not igualemos 50% of savings that has reached Schneider Electric at its headquarters, but very possible that opting for solutions similar to those used by this company our electricity bill will be reduced significantly.
The investment is recovered in four years
Everything we have seen so far paints very well. Thanks to these innovations we can reduce our carbon footprint, that posts the greenhouse gases whose emissions are responsible for every one of us either directly or indirectly, with the obvious benefits that this represents for the environment. In addition, we will reduce the amount of energy we consume, and our electric bill will be lighter. And, as we have seen in the previous section, control and home automation systems can significantly improve our quality of life. However, all this could be tarnished if the cost arising from the introduction of this technology is too high.
Consume less energy brings economic, environmental and health benefits, and, in addition, improves our quality of life overall
During our visit Schneider Electric officials confirmed to The Hive that they have managed to recover the investment made to make possible the 50% energy saving that I have mentioned several times in the article in just four years. It is not but that nothing bad, and, in principle, also seems interesting for domestic use. Perhaps these figures are not extrapolated directly to conventional housing, but they help us to see quite clearly the interesting thing is to bet for this type of solution, especially if we know that the energy savings will allow us to recover the money that we have invested in these systems in a few years. When worth less, think about it.