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How can a public building be made more energy efficient?

A significant portion of the energy every public building consumes is generated by its interior and exterior lighting systems, and above all by its heating and cooling systems. 

A number of measures of varying complexity can be taken in order to improve a public building’s energy efficiency:


  • Replacing traditional lights with more efficient units that use LED technology, saving up to 80% on energy.
  • Replacing heating and cooling equipment with electric heat pumps, or with renewable heat sources such as geothermal units: these innovative and sustainable systems significantly reduce the amount of electricity needed, provide greater comfort, improve performance, and simplify building energy management.
  • Installing heat pump systems coupled with solar panels: these systems ensure maximum savings by using energy generated by the panels during the day to power the heat pump, which experiences its peak use during that same period.
  • Installing an energy monitoring system that tracks energy usage to make it easier to discover where and how to achieve savings. 

Another option for a more energy efficient public building is a public building management system. Building Management System (BMS) oversees the network of subsystems such as heating, cooling, lighting, plumbing, processing equipment, access control, and security.

A BMS is a key tool for energy managers because it can optimize consumption while ensuring comfort levels that will facilitate the building’s occupation and use.

While a BMS can certainly help achieve greater energy efficiency, these complex systems were designed to manage several functions of a building at once. An Energy Management System (EMS), on the other hand, focuses specifically on energy consumption and how to reduce it.  

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What are energy management systems in public buildings?

These are systems with both hardware and software components that allow for the monitoring and control of energy consumption to maximize the energy efficiency of a public building.  Through these systems it is possible to gather and analyze consumption data and control and automate the management of the plants.

Why use an energy management system for a public building?

An energy management system is a vital tool for the stakeholders of any public building – such as a museum, office, school, or hospital – to achieve the twin goals of cost savings and energy reduction. Moreover, since an energy-efficient smart building equipped with a public building energy management system reduces CO2 emissions, it contributes to achieving climate change targets and makes the surrounding community a better place to live.

These systems ensure that the occupants stay comfortable while at the same time shutting off any unnecessary heating or cooling. They can also be used to guarantee proper maintenance, maintain safety, and can sometimes also be used for non-energy related tasks such as security and fire systems as well.

Why is it important to make a public building more sustainable?

Public buildings are the heart and soul of any city. Owners, occupants, and citizens in general enjoy the advantages of energy efficient public buildings, which are necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for sustainable cities that are  livable, connected, beautiful, clean, and functional. The highly visible benefits are shared by all.


Because of their size and their visibility, improving the energy efficiency in public buildings can make a significant contribution to dealing with climate change.

Global emissions from the construction sector and building operational emissions accounted for 38% of total global energy-related CO₂ emissions in 2019, according to a report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Public buildings can lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and become an inspiration for businesses and homes across the city. 

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