Retrofits for Energy-Efficient Buildings are easy to achieve with EnOcean technology

The European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) mandates the modernization of a large number of buildings within a relatively short timeframe. However, implementing traditional structural improvements like insulation or extensive renovations is challenging. In this context, enhancing, or retrofitting building automation systems proves to be the only reasonable option for meeting legal requirements. In that context, wireless solutions and technology can play a crucial role.

Building automation is the key

Insulations and extensive renovations of buildings are one way to make them more energy efficient. With the short time frame defined in the EPBD and the national laws based on it, these two measures are not very practical to reach the defined goals. Not only do they demand significant financial resources, but they also render a building unusable during construction times. Factors such as the lack of skilled workers as well as material shortages further add to the challenges. Besides, they entail a prolonged implementation phase, conflicting with the regulatory deadlines.

Implementing or enhancing building automation systems is a much easier and faster approach. It can include the installation of e.g. efficient heating control systems, that are in accordance with the new legal requirements, in a short timeframe. The emphasis here lies on retrofit solutions that bring existing buildings up to date with minimal intervention.

Building automation is the key to more energy-efficient buildings

Building automation is the key to more energy-efficient buildings

Retrofits with minimal installation effort

Many existing buildings lack intelligent control systems or have only partial automation systems in place. In such cases, building automation systems must be employed that can be retrofitted with minimal installation effort, preferably without rendering the building unusable during installation. These systems should moreover be sustainable, energy efficient, and affordable to optimize the investment.

Numerous building automation components need traditional cabling, leading to high installation costs and extended implementation phases. This is where EnOcean emerges as an innovative, wireless technology for retrofitting buildings. By eliminating the need for cabling, sensors and actuators can be retrofitted without significant effort. EnOcean technology can easily be combined with various radio infrastructures, Wi-Fi access points from leading vendors, or be added to edge controllers using external antennas if an on-premise solution is preferred.

Maintenance-free, wireless solutions are the answer

All EnOcean sensors, e.g. for measuring temperature, humidity, CO₂, or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are self-powered through a solar cell. They can be freely installed thanks to wireless and battery-free technology and eliminate the need for maintenance or replacement. These sensors and actuators can be retrofitted room by room or installed across all areas immediately. Additionally, it is possible to expand individual rooms or sub-areas retrofitted earlier into an overarching Building Management System (BMS). This flexibility allows even small or partial investments to seamlessly integrate into a comprehensive system.

Valve actuators using EnOcean technology, are radio-controlled, and the energy supply operates via temperature differences (the so-called Peltier element). The actuators are only replaced on the radiator, requiring no wiring.

Vast number of products for all requirements

Many different heating/cooling technologies can be found in buildings. E.g., radiators, underfloor heating, electric blankets, heating/cooling ceilings, or air conditioning systems. All these solutions are available from various manufactures using EnOcean. Once the radio system infrastructure is in place, any additional functionality can easily be added, leading to great flexibility. Connecting them to control systems via common standard protocols such as BACnet-IP, KNX, or others is possible. This ensures that the solution can easily be integrated into a larger BMS.

A key advantage of wireless and battery-less solutions is their maintenance-free nature. Due to the use of energy harvesting technology these wireless sensors do not require battery changes. This ensures reliable operation without regular costly maintenance like battery replacements. Energy harvesting sensors and switches can derive their energy from movement, light, temperature differences, or magnetic fields. This makes them a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to battery-powered or cabled devices.

Extensive ecosystem for seamless integration

The extensive partner ecosystem found in the EnOcean Alliance facilitates seamless integration with other building automation systems and devices. This enhances the flexibility and versatility of application areas. Using an open radio standard like the EnOcean protocol is crucial in buildings to integrate all components into a unified building management system.

Flexibility and sustainability

In the face of the challenges posed by the rapid modernization of numerous buildings, improving building automation turns out to be key. The emphasis on wireless retrofit solutions, such as EnOcean, enables efficient and cost-effective implementation without the need for extensive structural upgrades. The maintenance-free nature and the integration into a partner ecosystem make EnOcean technology ideal not only for meeting legal requirements. It also promotes flexibility and sustainability in building automation.

About The Author

Henning Meyer is Building Automation Consultant at EnOcean GmbH. He initially trained as an electrical systems installer and spent 12 years as a specialized electrician. Through part-time education, he earned certifications as a State-Certified Technician in Energy Technology and Process Automation, as well as a Business Administrator for Technicians. With over 20 years dedicated to building automation, Henning has excelled in roles such as service technician, project manager, technical sales, and system consultant. Since 2015, he has been a valuable member of the EnOcean GmbH team, contributing significantly to the company's success. Henning Meyer's journey is marked by continuous commitment to excellence in the ever-evolving field of electrical and building automation.