Sensors for Energy Efficient Buildings and Building Management - Nine Pronged Technology Assessment
Sensors for Energy Efficient Buildings and
Building Management - Nine Pronged
Sensors enabling cost savings by optimizing energy usage
Nine Dimensional Analysis of Technology Assessment
Incremental Benefits expected in future
Sensors are increasingly used in building automation for such applications as
HVAC, lighting control and presence detection. Incremental benefits in terms of
accuracy, networking and multisensing capabilities (e.g., CO2/temperature/humidity
sensors for HVAC) are expected in the future. Nanosensors are expected to make a
major impact by 2019 allowing high sensitivity and multisensing capabilities.
Multi-billion market with high potential
The overall sensors industry approaches a $65 Billion market, in 2012, according to
Frost & Sullivan. In 2012, the building automation sector accounted for around 2.7%
of the total, representing about $1.75 Billion.
High Technology Development in APAC
Major technological development is seen in the APAC region, which caters to global
market. There is a high potential for applications in this region owing to the increased
pace of industrialization. Growth of large retail malls, high growth of the building
industry, and increased penetration of the building automation systems drives the
Key Findings (continued)
Major Assignees located in APAC Region
The majority of the top assignees are located in the APAC region. The number of
patents related to sensors for building applications have more or less followed a rising
trend over the last decade
Government Initiatives driving research
A number of EU funded projects are being undertaken including public-private
projects. For instance the TIBUCON project constitutes organizations from multiple
countries in the EU.
Applicable for Multiple Applications
Sensors are targeted to enable cost savings by controlling the energy consumption of
systems based on real time demand. Sensors are vital for enhancing building energy
temperature, humidity, differential pressure/air flow, carbon dioxide or volatile organic
compounds, lighting conditions or human presence. Moreover. Lux sensors can turn
lights on or off, depending on the amount of daylight in a n area.
Key Findings (continued)
Impact on Key Megatrends
Sensors have major impact on Mega trends such as Urbanization, Innovation to Zero
and ‘Smart is the New Green’.
Increased opportunities with ICT
The cloud can serve as a platform for data collection, storage and analysis of
information generated by the sensors. Sensors can be integrated with other
technologies, thus opening up opportunities for product development and
Robust standards can promote adoption
The proliferation of standards (rather than the use of proprietary solutions) pertaining
to sensors for energy efficient buildings, including low-power wireless sensors and
for wireless solutions that include energy harvesters would further boost
implementation of sensors for energy efficient buildings.
With the growing interest towards improving energy conservation and reducing
the CO2 emission in the environment, a lot of research is being carried out in
the area of energy efficient buildings, as buildings are considered to be one of
the major sources, and a growing source, of CO2 emission and energy
consumption. With the intervention of smart sensors and actuators, the
construction of green buildings has become much easier as they help a great
deal in reducing the energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Thus equipping
buildings with motion sensors, air quality sensors, etc is observed to be the
recent trend in construction sector.
Energy utilized by the building sector accounts for about 40 percent of the total
electricity in US, as noted in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency
Trends in Residential and Commercial Buildings (August 2010). It was also
noted that U.S. buildings currently contribute 8 percent of the world’s carbon
dioxide emissions. In Europe, the building sector is responsible for 35-45
percent of total energy consumption. The statistics show the deep necessity to
construct green buildings and save energy. Energy efficient buildings serve all
the purposes a man needs by consuming least amounts of energy. Hence these
have become increasingly popular in the recent past.
With the deep awareness about energy deficiency in the world, there has
already been a significant improvement in the adaptation of energy efficient
services such as green buildings. Sensors enable demand based on supply of
lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning which results in energy savings
by turning off devices when not required.
Occupancy Sensors/Motion Detector
These systems use an image sensor to capture images which are analyzed to
determine the presence of people. Vision-based systems can detect and count the
number of people in an area, areas that are unoccupied, and can have a larger
range than conventional occupancy sensors
Ultrasonic sensors emit an inaudible high frequency tone. Like sonar, the tone
bounces off the objects in the room and returns to the sensor. If there is motion, the
acoustical response changes and occupancy is sensed.
PIR sensors sense infra-red heat radiated from the human body (10 micron wave
lengths). Because there can be other sources of heat at the same temperature, the
sensors respond to changes in position of the source of heat. Due to their physical
properties, pyroelectric sensors ca n only detect motion. Thermopile sensors are
able to detect the presence of stationary individuals by detecting body heat. And,
therefore, can be used to automatically switch off unnecessary air conditioning or
lighting when people are present but not moving.
Microwave sensors emit electromagnetic waves and detect their reflection or
echo to determine occupancy
Impact over next 5
Combination of technologies such as Ultrasonic and PIR, or PIR and Microwave,
The most common types of occupancy sensors use PIR or Ultrasonic technologies. For better accuracy, a combination of these technologies is
used. Occupancy sensors are mainly motion/human activity detectors that determine human motion to detect presence or absence of occupants.
Vision based occupancy detection are not motion detectors but rely on software to determine human beings from image processing. Microwave
technology is also being explored and implemented for occupancy detection.
Breadth of Applications
Based on Building Type
Application by Building Types
Residential buildings can
implement sensor solutions
to gain savings by having
individual rooms. And by
more precisely regulating
temperarture. Lighting and
window shade controlling
also has key potential in
Public places, such as
auditoriums, stadiums, sch
railway stations, etc will
controlled ventilation and
In places like shopping
ventilation can enable mall
authorities to generate
savings as well as ensure
comfort levels for end
users. This is because the
footfall generally varies
throughout the day
companies as one of the
major expenses in running
an office is electricity
consumption. A lot of waste
can be curbed by installing
occupancy based lighting
Impact over next 7 Years
Breadth of Applications
Specific Applications in Building Automation
• HVAC control implements sensor solutions to provide real time information about various
parameters, as well as occupancy information. The inputs lead to the system providing optimum
comfort level to users and facilitating the health of occupants. Moreover, it leads to energy savings
by switching off or controlling the device when not required
• Light Intensity sensors and occupancy sensors are the primary sensors
that are used in lighting control. Based on occupancy lighting is switched
on or off to enable energy savings. By gauging the ambient light in a room
lights can be controlled.
Air Quality Monitoring
Fire / Smoke Alarm
Window Shade Control
• Air quality monitoring leads to a healthier environment for
people. Toxic gases can be detected by the sensors in an
indoor environment as well as volatile organic compounds that
can affect the health of occupants. CO2 monitoring facilities
demand controlled ventilation
• Automatic doors are predominantly employed in hotels and
offices where doors open when a person approaches it.
Automatic doors employ motion sensing technologies to
determine human approach.
• Smoke alarms have been an integral part of buildings and residences.
Carbon monoxide sensors are used in residences and such buildings as
parking garages. A lack of false alarms are vital in this field. Temperature
and gas sensors are employed to detect fires and trigger automatic
systems for fire control
• Sensors that detect ambient light intensity can be used to control window shades during
daytime in the presence of bright sunlight
2015 2016 2017
Sensors for energy efficient buildings have the potential to converge with various
technologies, predominantly from the microelectronics, Information and Communication Technology, and
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