Heating systems are usually controlled on the basis of a single parameter: the outside temperature. New control units also include the weather forecast. But even then, this is still an extremely simplified version of a highly complex system. Here, influences such as passive solar energy or the heat storage function of walls are not taken into account. This means that heating systems consume more energy, emit more CO2 and incur more costs than are actually necessary to reach the target temperature. ‘Without taking measurements inside a building, it’s as if the heating controller is flying blind,’ explains Antoine Eddé, chairman of the board and product strategist at ECCO2 Solutions, a Swiss company that has developed an intelligent heating control system.
The IoT ECCO2 Building Intelligence solution is the European leader in intelligent heating control and is already in use in over 700 buildings in Switzerland and the rest of Europe. Clients include owners and administrators of major real estate portfolios who want to save energy costs without compromising on residential comfort. In addition to the outside temperature, ECCO2 Building Intelligence measures the temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration indoors every 15 minutes and the energy consumption in real time. The IoT devices use Swisscom’s LPN network for this purpose. Highly precise weather forecast data is also incorporated. The artificial intelligence called NARA analyses the measurement data over a period of three months. A refined logic system has been used to drastically speed up NARA’s machine learning process. ‘This allows a digital twin to be created during these three months: in other words, an extremely precise mathematical model of the building,’ is how Antoine Eddé describes the analysis phase. During this period, NARA adjusts 300 to 1,000 settings, interprets the results and automatically optimises the settings. By optimising the operational heating system without having to implement any construction measures, between 10 and 20% in carbon emissions can be saved. The state of the heating systems is also constantly monitored and an alarm triggered in the event of any faults, such as a blocked thermostatic valve, for instance.
ECCO2 Building Intelligence is a worthwhile investment for buildings both new and old as the structure can be retrofitted with the IoT system without much effort. Operational optimisation of a heating system with the help of ECCO2 Building Intelligence can provide an alternative to modernising a building for greater energy efficiency – or perfectly supplement such a measure. Prior to modernisation, the building’s energetic weak points can be determined using NARA. This enables these to be focussed on during modernisation or to limit modernisation to precisely these weak areas. Following modernisation, NARA can check whether the energy consumption and residential comfort targets have been achieved.
ECCO2 Solutions is a Swiss company based in Givisiez in the canton of Fribourg. The sensors for the specially developed IoT solution are produced in cooperation with Miromico, a Zürich high-tech company that specialises in the manufacture of IoT devices. Although the ECCO2 team could hardly be more diverse when it comes to its employees’ range of qualifications and places of origin, its members are united not only by their vision of working towards a world in balance but also by something typically Swiss: the demand for high quality. Antoine Eddé compares this to the watchmaking profession. ‘As in this best-known of Switzerland’s industries, we believe in top quality and particularly in precision.’
With ECCO2 Building Intelligence, between 3.0 and 3.6 kilograms of carbon emissions can be saved per square metre and year. A heating area measuring 1,650,000 m2 is currently equipped with the intelligent ECCO2 control system. This means that around five million kilograms of CO2 can be saved per annum. Considerably more emissions are to be cut in the future. ECCO2 Solutions has set itself an ambitious target: by next winter, a further 50,000,000 kWh in energy are to be saved each year. The aspiring company has thus commissioned the production of 25,000 more IoT sensors. Antoine Eddé is optimistic about the future. ‘We’re certain that our 25,000 sensors will find their market.’
His ambitious goal seems totally realistic, especially if you consider that the solution is not just ecological but also economical – all the more in light of rising energy prices.
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