According to our recent report on building automation systems, the market for building automation controls today totals over $75 billion per year. There’s still room for growth, however, not just in developing regions but even in North America and Western Europe. Automation systems and controls relating to HVAC and lighting are not always required by code, but they can play an important role in maintaining high levels of energy efficiency. As LEED certifications soar (recently passing 2 billion square feet of commercial certified space worldwide) and organizations look to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions, such controls are one of the key enabling technologies that achieve high levels of energy performance in buildings. Although some of this growth is due to the increasing stringency of building energy efficiency regulations, such as the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which will require all new construction in Europe to achieve nearly zero-energy levels by 2021, much of the investment in building automation controls will be voluntary, as companies aim to improve energy efficiency in their building portfolios.
At the same time, building automation systems are becoming more intelligent. Increasingly, controls are not designed to be “set and left” but are connected to a building management system (BMS) that continuously monitors data streams from building controls and feeds them into energy displays that help facilities managers and other decision-makers gain visibility into how their buildings are performing. This is enabled by the convergence of IT with building controls, a process that, despite arriving later to the building industry than to other industries like telecom, is now transforming the way energy is managed in buildings. Controls were originally imagined as standalone devices that would to some extent take control of building energy out of occupants’ hands to “make sure the lights got turned off.” The new wave of intelligent controls, ironically, aims to put control over controls back in the occupants’ hands, albeit under the guidance of sophisticated BMS and building energy management systems.
These advances in building automation technology are occurring just as demand for higher levels of energy efficiency is rising. As a result, Pike Research expects the market for building automation systems to grow to $146 billion in 2021 – a near doubling of the market today. Much of this growth will come from rapid construction activity in China, where 2 billion square meters of new space are added every year, and where much of that new space will integrate sophisticated controls over time. The fastest growth categories will be those that relate directly to energy efficiency, such as lighting controls. As these devices are rolled out, they will usher in a new generation of intelligent buildings that are less expensive to operate and easier to manage than ever before.
Article by Eric Bloom, appearing courtesy the Matter Network.