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Achieving energy balance in buildings

October 6, 2020

Generally speaking, comfort in buildings costs energy. However, for well-being, strong health, and high productivity, humans need comfort. This desire for increased comfort has also become a personalized one (look at car zoning in cars nowadays). The challenge for technology parties enabling optimized and personalized comfort is to deliver this energy as efficiently as possible and on the dot.But there is a catch: all of the energy put into a building is also escaping it. This is why it is important to discuss:

Energy balance

Energy entering buildings happens in various ways:

  • Sun projection
  • HVAC system (gas / electricity / city heat)
  • Electricity (lighting / equipment)
  • Human presence (radiating 37 degrees)

Energy exiting buildings also happens in various ways:

  • Radiation / transmission / convection via the envelope. (this is the largest part >70%)
  • Transmission via the floors in the ground
  • Exhaust of the HVAC system
  • Sewage (warm water)

If nothing would exit the building, it would be close to energy-neutral. So how can we try and do that? Through combining technology with building management systems and dynamic sun shading…


You can continuously improve technologies to optimize the energy performance of ++ buildings. Many parties are working on this and given the desire to get energy-neutral buildings, I am convinced that in 20 years most buildings can be energy neutral.

To achieve user comfort for all differing climate desires in a room, you always have to search for the optimum settings for the users’ presence in one controlled area, where a self-learning system is needed, constantly learning from users and adjusting itself to the comfort wishes of different user groups. This should be considered as a premium by building owners and tenants.

This thinking will lead you to the user. In my opinion user acceptance is the holy grail. If they like your system and are willing to interact with it, you gain knowledge on what the preferences and can have the building react accordingly.

Building Management Systems

Today, many developers and builders seem to be out of patience with building management systems. These systems often do not work as was promised. Coordination between parties is often not working, leading to functional errors. Administrators and building managers often find it difficult to understand these and malfunction occurs. This is the case for both small simple buildings as well as large and complex ones.

The industry needs aligned supply chains and integrated building management systems, not separated ones.

Dynamic Sun Shading

Besides air quality control, DSS is the most influential impact on comfort for humans, in my opinion. DSS greatly affects health, productivity, and well-being through optimizing the use of natural daylight and reducing artificial replacement. Unfortunately, what I see today is that nobody has a fully functioning dynamic sun shading system with good user interaction. Once this has been proven in a few buildings, I imagine that every building owner would like to have this.

To the PHYSEEonairs:

This reminds me of an amazing effect on Bauhaus, an extraordinary community innovation movement almost 100 years ago. The German national socialists closed the Bauhaus in 1933, and all these gifted people (Kandinsky /  Mies van der Rohe / Marcel Breuer / Johannes Itten / Paul Klee and many more) fled all over the world to make it a nicer place. If you ever have doubts about the energy-neutral mission… the answer lies in the Bauhaus story 😊!
Written by: Nico Pulskens, PHYSEE Alumni