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Smart buildings in the green energy transition

Kalevi Härkönen. Smart buildings in the green energy transition. 31.10.2023 (Väitöskirja).

In the interconnection between smart buildings and energy systems, the growing importance to develop flexibility in the way in which buildings consume energy has been recognized. Owing to the advances of internet and communications technology (ICT), increasingly smaller loads in buildings are to provide energy consumption flexibility, but the heterogeneity of buildings and the prospective customer base create barriers to their cost-effective implementation.

This research investigates how the utilization of energy consumption flexibility in buildings can be enhanced in the nexus between electric energy systems, smart buildings, and service providers. The objective of the study is to support the decision-making of owners of smart buildings and consumption flexibility service providers. The study comprises four individual case studies. Exploratory, qualitative, and abductive methodological choices are followed.

The results suggest that professionally managed non-residential buildings seem well suited for consumption flexibility programs that support the balancing of the electric grid. The current techno-economic flexibility potential of residential buildings is, however, more limited. Standardization is essential in achieving interoperability between the variety of systems in modern smart buildings, and it may provide significant benefits to both the industry and consumers. However, it seems likely that the evolving adoption of standards among smart buildings has not resulted in building management system vendors adjusting their strategies accordingly.

This research supports owners of smart buildings and consumption flexibility service providers by offering tools to overcome the barriers of progress, eventually contributing to the economically viable development towards sustainable energy systems. It also expands the research on the demand-side management of smart buildings, as previous studies on the topic predominantly apply to buildings in warmer climates.