by Professor Risto Kosonen
The effect of the cold winter on the sufficiency of power and energy prices is thought-provoking. Public bodies have prepared for this with energy-saving campaigns. In addition, several property owners have drawn up instructions on how to reduce energy use. So much has been learned from previous energy crises that the importance of indoor climate is emphasized in several guidelines. In professional society, the importance of indoor climate is understood both in terms of human health and the long-term functionality of structures, but then it remains to be seen how the average resident will perform.
There is no going back, and, likely, the price of energy will permanently remain at a higher level than before. The slowdown of global warming requires expensive investments in energy systems, and we must quickly get rid of fossil burning. In the future, energy production must be based mainly on the use of renewable energy, the output of which varies significantly daily. Due to fluctuating production, the peak power of buildings has to be managed better than at the moment. We are moving from optimizing energy use to power management. In this balancing energy production and consumption, buildings play a significant role, which, however, requires improving the smart readiness of buildings and also local energy storage.
During Corona, we learned how to work remotely and now we have started returning to our jobs. They have learned to work remotely so well that many workplaces have to attract employees to come back to the office. It is clear that the ways of working are changing and the ratio of remote work will be significant in the future in jobs and tasks where it is possible. In the future, office buildings will function more and more as meeting places than as spaces intended for actual work. This means that the number of people in the offices and their different premises vary significantly.
In terms of energy use, demand-based ventilation is an effective way to manage varying numbers of people in such a way that the air quality remains good and energy is not wasted. Ventilation is used where and when workers are present, where different sensors control the operation of the ventilation.
In the last years, it has been learned that the ventilation of buildings is of great importance in the control of airborne respiratory infections. In terms of the risk of infection, adequate ventilation for the people present must always be ensured in pandemic situations. Now, as we move towards winter, pandemic cases are becoming more common. It is good to keep this in mind when controlling the ventilation.
Management of indoor climate and energy use requires systems that perform according to plan. In the conducted studies, it has been found that there are shortcomings in the performance of the HVAC- systems, and the monitoring of the system operation is in many cases neglected. Several technically complex demand-based ventilation systems do not work as they should. Several of these deficiencies could be easily corrected if the operation of the systems was monitored better.
It has been said that data is the new oil. The utilization of data enables completely new services with which optimal control of building services is possible. In the efficient utilization of data, the operation of the technical systems and the correctness of the measurements must be ensured. Now, during the energy crisis and infection cases becoming more common, ensuring the operation and the correctness of the set values is a primary measure that should be done by technical staff.