The impact of a new law decree for public buildings

Le Tréport, between Normandy and Hauts de France

Following on from the decree of July 23, 2019 relating to obligations to reduce final energy consumption in buildings for tertiary use, known as the “tertiary decree”, the French official journal published on July 20, 2020 a new decree relating to the automation and control system of non-residential buildings and the automatic heat regulation, better known under the term “BACS decree” for Building automation & control systems.

This decree makes it compulsory to equip tertiary buildings with automation and control systems by January 1, 2025, the objective of which is to help achieve the energy efficiency objectives set by the tertiary decree. More precisely, the BACS decree defines four functions:

  1. Measure and control: Record and analyze the energy consumption data of technical systems every hour and adjust their parameters accordingly. Keep data on a monthly basis for five years;
  2. Provide information on the building’s situation in relation to reference values; detecting losses in efficiency and informing the building operator of possibilities for improving energy efficiency;
  3. Interoperate with the various technical building systems (on this point, the decree remains vague);
  4. Allow manual shutdown and autonomous management of the technical systems for which it is responsible.

Target trajectory for the evolution of energy consumption (source: OID 2018)

Cities: a real estate heritage marked by diversity

Whatever its size, the city has a tertiary real estate heritage which is characterized by:

  • The large number of public buildings under its responsibility (more or less one building for 500 inhabitants);
  • The diversity of destinations: administrative, cultural, sporting, educational, associative, religious, health, cemetery …
  • A very diverse age and levels of equipment, the city infrastructure having been built up over very long periods.

The application of tertiary and BACS decrees is therefore a particularly difficult task: the combination of budgetary, calendar and technical constraints constitute a web that is difficult to disentangle for municipal services.

To this we must add support for change: the agents, already busy, are essential in achieving the objectives of reducing energy consumption, of which they must be central actors.

A specific analysis grid

The services in charge of running cities therefore have very different constraints from those of their counterparts in charge of office buildings or shopping centers (also concerned by the tertiary and BACS decrees), and are faced with several options:

  • Individual or global approach: should a solution be put in place for each building one by one, or rather a solution capable of taking into account almost the entire building stock?
  • Specialized or multi-purpose approach: should a specific solution be chosen, admittedly sophisticated but the functional scope of which will be limited to the functions of the BACS decree, or take the opportunity to deploy an open solution that will make it possible to resolve other problems within the city (water management, air quality, multiple schedules, interactions between agents, etc.)?

Individual or global?

The choice seems relatively straightforward: the large number of buildings to be addressed makes an approach by buildings almost ineffective: the calendar, budgetary and above all operational constraints will be far too strong for the surgical approaches to have any chance of success. You need a solution that can handle if not all premises, at least a large part of them.

Specialized or versatile?

The answer to this question is more difficult than the previous one. Indeed, a solution specialized in the control of buildings, compatible with BACS, could seem an obvious avenue, making it possible to benefit from the professional skills of its supplier or its integrator. On the other hand, it will constrain the use to the framework provided by its editor; in addition, city services run the risk of having to multiply the tools: management of energy, water, air, lighting, mobility, parking lots, green spaces , signage, access controls, etc., which goes neither in the direction of simplicity nor in that of budgetary frugality.

Besançon, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

What about trying HI?

The implementation of digital technologies is the typical response to each new problem (the BACS decree is a perfect example). But why not trust what is the pinnacle of biological technology: human intelligence, coupled with an ounce of common sense?

For example, to better control a fairly old building whose heating system is not connected, would it not be enough to set up a dynamic notification system whose content will indicate in a simple way the actions to be carried out: the person in charge of a gymnasium will receive clear messages (by the means of its choice: sms, MS Teams, Slack, Facebook …) regularly indicating how to adjust the heating and ventilation, according to the schedule of use of this equipment and external information such as weather forecast and outdoor temperature. Simple, right?

The constraint of the BACS decree could ultimately be an opportunity to be seized by every city, small, medium and larger:

  • To reduce its bills;
  • To reduce its environmental impact;
  • To simplify and enhance the daily life of its agents.

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If you like this article, you might also read this one: the-curse-of-the-last-mile or our page dedicated to cities and territories.

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