"Smart buildings" are buildings designed, constructed or managed by ICT-based solutions which improve energy efficiency and resources management at all stages of a building's life cycle.
Building energy consumption levels play a central role in current greenhouse gas emission levels, representing 40 percent of total European Union energy end usage. Buildings are the largest single source of CO2 emissons within the EU-15 (including electric power consumption), with total consumption levels steadily rising since 1990.
Smart ICT provides an intelligent framework for smart buildings on the way to creating a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Intelligent building management systems - which operate heating and cooling systems for example - are just one tool in the smart building armory. ICT-based monitoring, response and optimization services can be implemented to maximize energy efficiency from building design through to construction and operation.
Germany is showing the way forward with an impressive array of measures which are helping redefine construction in terms of intelligent networks and the Internet of Things. Smart buildings will play a pivotal role in the development of new and innovative distributed energy production and energy sector business models as they become active nodes in smart grids. It is forcast that alone the implementation of intelligent building climate management systems could help reduce CO2 emission levels by more than 41 million tons in Germany by 2020.
Smart building advances already being made in Germany will furthermore help contribute to reduce the 45 percent global energy consumption increase by 2025 forcast by environmental pressure groups and industry associations.
The National Climate Change Programme introduced a package of measures designed to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 to 2012 by 21 percent (as compared to 1990 levels) and enable an effective climate change policy to continue beyond 2012. The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development is responsible for the building sector, which accounts for over one third of Germany's total energy demand.
Research Initiative "Future Building"
The Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development's "Future Building" initiative aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the German building sector within Europe and to provide impulse to innovation and promote research and development in the sector. The initiative is divided into areas of subsidized research and commissioned research which in turn are subdivided into thematic groups or "research clusters."
More than 160 projects received support in the four years up to 2010, with many research results generating international acclaim. One specific example is the Technical University of Darmstadt's "Plus Energy House" which won the US Department of Energy's prestigious Solar Decathlon competition in 2007 and 2009. These successes further underline Germany's leading position in developing future technologies for the building sector. The first five years of the initiative were successfully concluded in 2010.
The German Sustainable Building Council
The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen) works with its members to continually develop and advance the internationally acknowledged DGNB certificate for environmentally friendly, economically efficient, and user-friendly buildings.
Launched in 2009, DGNB certification is already one of the leading systems worldwide, thanks to its comprehensive quality concept and holistic approach to the complete building life cycle (with particular emphasis on economic, ecological, and sociocultural factors). Gold, silver and bronze
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