With the increase in the circular economy and the arrival of the next Environmental Regulation (RE 2020), many solutions are being considered to reduce the energy consumption of buildings. The heat produced by data centres could, according to some, be a solution. Here is why.
Digital technology, especially during the first lockdown, played a central role in maintaining economic activity, health and education, with teleworking, telemedicine and distance learning. It is revolutionising the way we live, and with it, the life of our buildings. Offices, university campuses, hospitals and shopping centres, equipped with a digital infrastructure and connected equipment, are breaking free from their past images and redesigning themselves to meet current needs for reorganised and reduced work spaces, energy efficiency and comfort. The term “smart building”, which first appeared in the 1980s, is now taking on its full meaning.
A simple application loaded onto a smartphone turns an office building into a sort of “Beauty and the Beast” palace: doors open as you walk by, the lift takes you straight to your floor. Your meeting room, where the air quality has been measured beforehand, opens its doors and lights come on as you enter, and your presentation starts as soon as you put your smartphone on the table…
“The future of the smart building itself can be understood like the operating system of a smartphone,” explained Diego Alegre Vega, technical services manager and BOS technical leader at Bouygues Energies and Services. “In a smartphone, applications (phone, messages, camera, calendar, etc.) run on a common operating system, usually Android or iOS. It also allows new applications to be added. In the same way, in a smart building, a single ‘BOS’ (Building Operating System) will allow its user or operator to connect seamlessly to the various facilities in a building (security gate, lift, lights, heating, ventilation, blinds, access to the various rooms, sensors, etc.), all of which work together.”
“This is not a technology-centred building, but a human-centred one,” noted Fabrice Poline, Strategic Marketing Manager at Bouygues Construction. “A building equipped with a digital system only becomes a smart building if it meets both socio-economic and ecological challenges, such as providing its users with the services they really need: saving time and efficiency in the office, benefiting from better remote connection, while reducing costs and carbon emissions.”
It is therefore up to humans, when digital efficiency is required, to ensure that digital use produces fewer carbon emissions than it generates, and to ensure the protection of systems and data at a time when cyber-attacks are increasing exponentially. “Between October 2019 and October 2020, there was a twenty-fold increase in cyber-attacks.” Seven healthcare establishments have been hit by cyber-attacks since 1 January 2021, revealed “Libération” on 19 February 2021. However, solutions exist and are being developed, notably with the labelling of buildings (WiredScore or R2S).
“The smart building is already a reality, but it is only at the experimental stage,” reiterated Thomas Guerras, Digital Consulting Manager at Elan. “It can only live up to its promises with the development of a strong shared digital culture; the younger generations will be ready for this.”