Stephan Schwarz, Berlin Senator for Economics explained that older buildings need to be retrofitted

Digitalising old technology in Berlin buildings can reduce up to 30% of emissions, study finds

Digitalising old technology in Berlin buildings can reduce up to 30% of emissions, study finds

City authorities have now identified three areas of action in sustainable building policy: renewable energy, structural renovations and digitalisation

Today, the Technology Foundation Berlin (Technologiestiftung Berlin) published a study on the potential carbon emissions savings that the city can make by retrofitting technology with digital instead of mechanical instruments. Although there is no precise data on the energy consumption of homes in apartment buildings, researchers are quite confident that smarter solutions could lead to fewer emissions. 

The study was aimed at determining the savings potential in Berlin's housing stock and was funded by the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises. The Technology Foundation Berlin, on the other hand, is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to developing smart solutions to aid in the city’s digital transformation.

The city’s three areas of reducing emissions in buildings

An example of building technology is a radiator’s control valve. Researchers argue that installing a digital valve, for instance, can make heating much more efficient. The example they give is this: a digital valve can turn on the heat when a person enters the room or turn it off when the temperature reaches a certain level.

Consequently, based on the study’s findings, local authorities have identified three areas for potential emissions reduction. They include renewable energy, structural renovations, like insulation, and digitalising technology within the building.

Cutting building emissions by 30%

According to the Technology Foundation’s findings, Berlin’s apartments emit 2.6 million tons of CO2. Nicolas Zimmer, Chairman of the Technology Foundation Berlin explained that they account for a cool third of the city’s total emissions. Digitalising building technology could reduce that amount by as much as 30%.

At the same time, one of the issues researchers ran into, was determining where exactly that energy was being consumed in each individual home. This is because many buildings are measured as a single consumer and emitter. Installing digital controls in individual homes can solve that problem and can help identify more specific energy waste issues.

The study identifies publicly owned housing associations in Berlin, with a considerable stock of 300,000 units, as a good place to start retrofit digitalisation. Most of the units are in buildings from the 1960s and 1980s and though the city has already done a lot to reduce energy consumption there, digital building technology could prove to be the next important step towards sustainability.

Stephan Schwarz, Berlin Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises explained that the majority of apartments in Berlin are in buildings built before digitalisation and need to be retrofitted.

He continued: “We want this modernization because it will make a decisive contribution to the energy transition, and we offer various subsidies for this. Because in addition to new energy sources and energy-efficient building refurbishment, the digitization of building technology is the third area that can make substantial contributions to the energy transition.”



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