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Building a technological future A

Paul Russell of Schneider Electric explores KNX systems and what they could really mean for the management of luxury homes and buildings in the future and for electrical installations more generally

s the government continues to push the green agenda, home- owners and businesses are under increased pressure to reduce their carbon output via a range of initiatives. However, with the econ- omy still fairly stagnant, green incen- tives must be both economically and sustainably viable.

The electrical industry is changing faster than ever before. New technol- ogy advancements aligned with changes in legislation and government incentives has ensured that the issue of energy efficiency has risen up the social agenda. The recently launched Green Deal scheme is one example and allows homeowners to make energy efficient improvements in the home, at no upfront cost.

As fuel prices continue to rise, schemes such as the Green Deal are anticipated to generate a significant increase in energy efficient installa- tions as more and more consumers look to technology to help improve energy performance, to make cost sav- ings and to future-proof their property. For those planning to build a new luxury home or commercial premises or for those looking to refurbish an existing building, the issue of energy performance is an important consider- ation. The code for sustainable homes and other legislation has enforced some policies onto the house builders and developers but there are other potential solutions that can help our homes and businesses automatically.

Above: new technology advancements aligned with changes in legislation and government incentives has ensured that the issue of energy efficiency has risen up the social agenda

mental factors that must be consid- ered when designing an automated electrical installation for a building - flexibility, comfort, cost efficiency, safety and security.

Regardless of the building’s pur- pose as commercial or residential premises, these five factors, and expe- riences gained in the commercial sector, have been integral in shaping the way in which home automation technologies operate today. A fully automated home using a control solution such as KNX, would mean that all aspects of the building operate at the greatest efficiency. Lighting control could be co-ordinated

‘There are ultimately five fundamental factors that must be considered when designing an automated electrical installation for a building - flexibility, comfort, cost efficiency, safety and security’


Building management systems (BMS) for example have been a common sight within commercial premises for many years but less so in residential. That is all changing now as a consequence of legislation and increased public awareness. Energy efficiency, home automation and state of the art control features are highly sought after and realised in many new builds.

There are ultimately five funda- 8

with windows, blinds, curtains and the desired lighting level for the ulti- mate in comfort. Furthermore, timing and presence detection can be added to ensure that the only lit areas are the ones that need to be. This gives further efficiencies. It can also provide a secu-


In addition, one of the key elements of the Code for Sustainable Homes is the concept of Lifetime Homes where a building is designed not just for use now but also in the future, meaning that it needs to be able to adapt to changing requirements. The obvious answer in terms of an electrical con- trol solution would be to install a system that is future-proofed and can be adapted to the changing needs of the end user. With KNX, any new equipment installed into the system has to comply with the standards laid down by the KNX organisation - ensuring that it will always work seamlessly with any existing installed KNX equipment.

Another advantage of KNX is that devices can be added at any time after initial installation, up to the limits of the system, which is vast. In this way it becomes very flexible. It is also easy to re-programme devices should the use of a room or area be changed. For example, if a lounge becomes a home cinema room or a bedroom becomes an office or vice-versa. This flexibility is equally beneficial in commercial premises. KNX allows the building configuration to keep pace with the user’s needs. Moreover, KNX is an example of the technological innovation that will help drive energy efficiency within our homes and businesses. It is not the only automation solution available within the market, but it offers the greatest flexibility and security with regard to the Lifetime Homes standard. Needless to say, consumers will continue to use appliances and it will take a considerable amount of time to educate people to change their behaviour and use energy more wisely. It is ultimately our responsi- bility as an industry to help con- sumers to become more aware and to provide them with the tools to help make it happen.

Schneider Electric T:0870 608 8 608

rity alert if presence is detected when a room should be vacant.

Intelligent heating controls, which can also be included in a KNX system, can actually reduce energy costs by up to 30%, resulting in a massive saving on the annual energy bill.

Enter 200 FEBRUARY 2013 Electrical Engineering

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