Technological advances have enabled huge shifts in how people live, work, consume and entertain themselves. The rapid increase in digitalisation offers both opportunities and threats: opportunities for people to live and work remotely, away from historic patterns of cities and offices; and environmental threats through increased energy consumption and increasing CO2 footprints that these trends are driving.
The building and construction sector is estimated to account for 36% of final energy consumption and 39% of direct and indirect CO2 emissions worldwide in 2018, according to the 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Increased electricity consumption for heating, lighting, cooling and appliances is a key driver for energy use and CO2 emissions. Among the key global buildings sector trends listed in this report, current efficiency improvements are outpaced by floor area and population expansions.
In the same report, a survey among building owners show that 94% of all building owners were asked whether they believe that their buildings are more valuable after conducting green retrofits or green renovation projects. 41% believe that the asset value increases with more than 5%.
According to Savills World Research, the total global real estate industry in 2017 was valued at $281 trillion, constituting the largest asset class in the world. Thus, the total potential value and environmental impact to be gained by reducing energy use in the sector is enormous.
In the EU alone, buildings are the single largest consumer of energy. Approximately 35% of all buildings in the EU are more than 50 years old, and close to 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient. However, only 1% of the building stock is renovated each year. By increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings, the financial and environmental savings is significant.
Building volumes continue accelerating to meet the new patterns, while data processing technologies drive greater energy demand and associated emissions. Together, these trends exacerbate the energy and environmental challenges that have evolved into major geopolitical and social issues facing a rapidly growing global population.
Over the next 40 years, the global building sector is expected to grow by nearly 230 billion m2. That is equivalent to adding the floor area of Japan to the planet every year until 2060. Without action, energy demand in the building sector could increase 30 percent by 2030. This is equivalent to all the energy used by households in the US, EU and China in 2015.
Simultaneously, digitalisation, information technology and 5G exponentially increase the need for processing power (with a corresponding increase in energy consumption). This will become evident as application of artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), 3-D imaging, and high-performance gaming solutions require extensive high-performance computing.
According to Mordor Intelligence, the high-performance computing market was valued at USD 35.8 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of USD 50.32 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of more than 7%. The data center industry as a whole is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide, with the global data center market size poised to grow by approximately USD 284bn during 2019-2023, progressing at a CAGR of more than 17% during the forecast period, according to a report by Technavio.
According to analyst reports, the energy use by the global data center industry ranges from barely no change from the current 1% of the world’s total electricity demand, to 20% in 2025. Of the energy consumed in a conventional data center, about 40% is for air cooling the servers. And, in air-cooled facilities, only a minor fraction of the waste-heat may be utilized for secondary purposes. Hence, the demand for sustainable energy solutions for data centers is surging. Our Green Compute Project will lead the way in increasing energy capture and reducing energy consumption, while reducing the physical volume required for servers; by connecting these with Green energy sources, and so to multiply computing capacity and massively reduce energy consumption.
The consensus is that the world needs urgent action to reduce climate change. The building and construction sector represents about 39% of the challenge, but also of the solution. Reducing the electricity demand and CO2 emissions from buildings requires holistic approaches.
At MIRIS, we believe in combining technologies in a transversal way to take advantage of the increasing need for computing power and speed, represented by the growth of Edge data centers, combining it with with our energy recapture technologies to create an energy resource for urban building environments that can therefore be more sustainable and simultaneously meet the changing working and living patterns,, that in 2020 and 2021 are seeing an unexpected acceleration as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Electricity demand and CO2 footprint can thus be significantly reduced while facilitating connectivity and enabling cleaner living outside the main traditional city environments.
Through digitizing buildings and introduction of sensors indoor climate can be monitored, analysed and optimized in ways that also reduce the total energy consumption through efficient design build and operation techniques.
A third, and highly important problem to be solved is the transparency and predictability of real-estate investments. MIRIS’ response to this is embodied in our blockchain platform for financial investments and supply chain transactions.