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The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) with the Energy Valve

Streamlining compliance with European standards using the Belimo Energy Valve™

Our impact on the planet is becoming more and more evident, resulting in an ever greater effort being put into minimising energy consumption, from changing behaviours and production processes to creating more efficient homes and offices. To help businesses ensure that their buildings are not wasting energy, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union has compiled a set of standards – the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU (EPBD) – that outlines the measures necessary to minimise energy consumption. Although this directive has existed for some time – and was last updated in 2018 – many new buildings and renovation projects still fail to comply with the guidelines. Following the recent COP26 summit, there is likely to be increasing scrutiny on this aspect of building design in the near future. It therefore makes sense for companies, whether looking to construct a new building or renovate an existing one, to be proactive in addressing the EPBD requirements.

Belimo has over 40 years of experience in the HVAC market, producing high quality products that increase energy efficiency. Its innovative Belimo Energy Valve (EV) has already helped many businesses around the world to drastically reduce their power consumption and, subsequently their CO2 emissions, by providing pressure-independent flow control and virtually eliminating the risk of low delta T. In addition, connectivity to the Belimo Cloud means that data from each EV is automatically stored and backed up, and can easily be evaluated by the operator to optimise settings and identify any processes in the building that waste energy. This makes the EV an excellent tool to help buildings comply with numerous elements of the EPBD:

Paragraph 4

"Management of energy demand is an important tool enabling the Union to influence the global energy market and hence the security of energy supply in the medium and long term."

The EV offers a "power control" function that equates an input signal to a power requirement, rather than a flow rate. This allows users to easily reduce the power to the selected units.

Paragraph 25

"Recent years have seen a rise in the number of air-conditioning systems in European countries. This creates considerable problems at peak load times, increasing the cost of electricity and disrupting the energy balance. Priority should be given to strategies which enhance the thermal performance of buildings during the summer period. To that end, there should be focus on measures which avoid overheating, such as shading and sufficient thermal capacity in the building construction, and further development and application of passive cooling techniques, primarily those that improve indoor climatic conditions and the microclimate around buildings."

Low thermal capacity is often a result of low delta T. The EV is therefore equipped with a delta T manager that can use either a fixed or scaling form to ensure that this parameter does not go below a certain threshold.

Paragraph 26

Regular maintenance and inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems by qualified personnel contributes to maintaining their correct setting in accordance with the product specification and thereby ensuring optimal performance from an environmental, safety and energy point of view. An independent assessment of the entire heating and air-conditioning system should occur at regular intervals during its lifecycle in particular before replacement or upgrading. In order to minimise the administrative burden on building owners and tenants, Member States should endeavour to combine inspections and certifications as far as possible."

The EV constantly monitors heat exchange, flagging and/or correcting any deviations from optimal performance settings. Furthermore, the system makes it easy for the operator, even an inexperienced one, to fix the issue. If more assistance is required, connecting the EV to the Belimo Cloud, by opening an outbound port on your firewall, allows users to request a check by a Belimo expert. Once granted access, the Belimo team can review the data and offer suggestions on which settings should be adjusted.

Paragraph 28

"Since local and regional authorities are critical for the successful implementation of this directive, they should be consulted and involved, as and when appropriate in accordance with applicable national legislation, on planning issues, the development of programmes to provide information, training and awareness-raising, and on the implementation of this directive at national or regional level. Such consultations may also serve to promote the provision of adequate guidance to local planners and building inspectors to carry out the necessary tasks. Furthermore, Member States should enable and encourage architects and planners to properly consider the optimal combination of improvements in energy efficiency, use of energy from renewable sources and use of district heating and cooling when planning, designing, building and renovating industrial or residential areas."

The directive encourages the use of district heating and cooling schemes when possible. The efficiency of the district plants relies on the users extracting as much energy as possible from the water before they return it, and many providers impose fines on customers that fail to do so. This will not be a problem using the EV, since it ensures that the required amount of energy is always extracted by the heat exchangers.

Article 1, Paragraph 2, Section f

"Regular inspection of heating and air-conditioning systems in buildings."

Regular inspections can be difficult to perform in occupied spaces, which is why remote access to the HVAC systems is so valuable. The EV is digital-ecosystem ready, enabling the evaluation of real-time flows and heat exchange from the comfort of your office, with all data stored for 13 months. This also means you can connect it directly to the building management system (BMS) network, and remotely access features through a simple-to-navigate onboard webserver. Better still, because it is HTML 5 compatible, most BMS screens can simply open the webserver for the selected EV directly from the BMS.

Article 8, Paragraph 2

"Member States shall encourage the introduction of intelligent metering systems whenever a building is constructed or undergoes major renovation, whilst ensuring that this encouragement is in line with point 2 of Annex I to Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (1). Member States may furthermore encourage, where appropriate, the installation of active control systems such as automation, control and monitoring systems that aim to save energy."

The EV is a powerful "active control system" that meters heat exchangers in HVAC systems. By actively controlling the heat exchange to avoid overflow, the EV helps to save energy that would otherwise be wasted. Reducing or eliminating overflows also decreases the workload of pumps and chillers, resulting in further efficiency gains.

Article 15, Paragraph 1

"Member States shall lay down the necessary measures to establish regular inspection of the accessible parts of air-conditioning systems of an effective rated output of more than 12 kW. The inspection shall include an assessment of the air-conditioning efficiency and the sizing compared to the cooling requirements of the building. The assessment of the sizing does not have to be repeated as long as no changes were made to this air-conditioning system or as regards the cooling requirements of the building in the meantime. Member States may reduce the frequency of such inspections or lighten them, as appropriate, where an electronic monitoring and control system is in place."

By connecting to the Belimo Cloud, it is possible to grant a third party permission to access the EV’s digital twin remotely using an API. This secure connection allows access to the heat exchanger’s efficiency data, minimising the number of physical inspections and associated disruptions to the business.

Annex II – Energy Performance Certificates

EV is a useful and flexible tool that will help you to comply with the European standards, making it easy to obtain an energy performance certificate.

Summary

Reading through the 23 pages of the directive may feel daunting and as though there is little chance of meeting the requirements set out in the EPBD. Hopefully, this article highlights some simple steps that your business can take to guarantee compliance. An important takeaway is that, although these regulations have not yet been legally enforced, this will soon change. Using the EV can help you to stay one step ahead, ensuring high energy performance in your buildings.