interoperabilitySmart buildingEnergy efficiencyEnergy savings

The goal of energy management through InterConnect and Smart Buildings

With energy usage rising more than ever, the need for efficient energy management grows accordingly. The unprecedented pandemic of Covid-19 has decelerated worldwide energy consumption, but deeper changes are still needed to achieve 2030, 2040 and 2050 decarbonization goals and drive the development of new levels of interconnection, flexibility and decentralization. That is where InterConnect comes in.

Jonas Lamothe, SENSINOV
May 25, 2021

In 2020, half of the world went under lockdown due to the unprecedented pandemic of Covid-19. This led to a significant decrease in energy consumption, which meant less CO2 emissions and cleaner air. One could see this event as positive on the energy side, however, its effects may only be temporary. As societies start to re-open, energy consumption will rise again, along with the need to manage it in a smart and efficient way. The pandemic also revealed the great potential for remotely performing tasks or controlling business processes. Below is a summary of the impact of the pandemic on European energy usage in early 2020 during the first lockdowns wave.

The building sector accounts for 40% of energy overall consumption worldwide¹. In terms of digitalisation, the sector is starting to transform and modernize step by step. Through InterConnect, pilots will be set to develop and achieve a common base and innovative new energy efficiency solutions for the future in the residential, commercial building and utility grids over four years and in seven different European countries. Bringing together more than 50 partners covering the full value chain (R&D institutions, manufacturers, DSO, retailers, IT providers, and energy users), the InterConnect partners share the common goal to establish an interoperability framework that makes possible using devices from various manufacturers together in support of energy efficiency services.


In another article² , we discussed how interoperability was the key to unlocking the true potential lying dormant in buildings, restrained by a lack of unity between different technology producers. Due to the variety of products – be it physical devices or digital platforms managing them – not achieving a certain level of interoperability adds up to the operational cost and might result in a deteriorated energy performance, hindering the uptake of IoT and overall digitalisation of the smart building field. A building might be well equipped with IoT devices and sensors, however, if none of these devices can communicate with each other, or only between same-manufacturer equipments, the building is not smart. Having devices from multiple suppliers without a proper interoperability thus leads to an increase in the time spent managing them, effectively reducing the chances to achieve the energy efficiency objectives of a building stock.


Some buildings are already equipped with appropriate devices or sensors but have yet to benefit for this untapped potential. There is little to no data usage and the behaviour of appliances remains opaque. A smart building leads to energy efficiency with up to 30% lower operating costs³. Take the example of a faulty equipment behaviour in a building.

  • The malfunction needs to be noticed by someone, which could potentially take very long,
  • That person will then have to transmit the information to the facility manager,
  • The latter then needs to fix the faulty device, often times requiring costly and time-consuming manual interventions.

The whole process can thus be lengthy, and during that time, the energy bill keeps on increasing. Other problems are even harder to notice, like lamps or AC running during off-hours. Some equipments might be switched on manually for specific and temporary purposes and forgotten afterwards. Coupling all these possible issues with the number of buildings that could be impacted leads to significant energy losses.


However, with a connected and smart building, all of these issues can be resolved. Having a helicopter view of a building stock or being able of monitoring and controlling devices in a building would change the way of working of facility managers. They would be able to leverage interoperability via a set of smart connectors – allowing it to interface virtually with any device – the next step in the building domain. It can also provide the current status of all these devices, their recent history and how they are supposed to work. Potential equipment defaults or malfunctions could thus be instantly exposed for the building manager to take action.


Below is an example of how the right tools, based on an interoperable framework, can help with the early detection of energy leaks. By doing so, pilot sites will be able to reduce off-hours consumption, identify consumption peaks, detect faulty equipment behavior, and smooth out the load curve.

Figure 1. Correcting an off-hours consumption by leveraging the power of data and interoperability


The dread of noticing a device failure months after it occurred through expensive bills is gone, and with it, a lessened environmental and energy impact.


InterConnect is paving the way for a more interoperable and more sustainable building sector and leveraging new synergies with the residential and electricity sectors. This is an important step towards energy efficiency, becoming a more pressing necessity every day. The benefits of implementing smart building solutions are key to having a properly managed energy consumption as a society, considering the importance of the domain, along with optimizing the way buildings are managed, and providing the right tools for facility managers to implement actionable and wide-reaching energy efficiency policies.

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