Networks in Buildings: Which Path Forward?

Publication Type

Conference Paper



To date, digital networks have principally been installed for connecting information technology devices, with more modest use in consumer electronics, security, and large building control systems. The next 20 years will see much greater deployment of networks in buildings of all types, and across all end uses. Most of these are likely to be introduced primarily for reasons other than energy efficiency, and add energy use for network interfaces and network products. Widespread networking could easily lead to increased energy use, and experience with IT and CE networks suggests this may be likely. Active engagement by energy efficiency professionals in the architecture and design of future networks could lead to their being a large and highly cost-effective tool for efficiency. However, network standards are complex and take many years to develop and negotiate so that lack of action on this in the near term may foreclose important opportunities for years or decades to come. Digital networks need to be common globally, providing another challenge to building systems and elements that are more commonly designed only for national or regional markets. Key future networks are lighting, climate control, and security/presence. This paper reviews some examples of past network designs and use and the lessons they hold for future building networks. It also highlights key needed areas for research, policy, and standards development.


2008 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

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