Functional Monitoring: an essential tool in the efficient operation of buildings

Functional Monitoring in buildings plays a crucial role in efficient and sustainable management. The continuous Monitoring and evaluation of the performance and operation of the energy-consuming systems and equipment of a building define the process. The process is carried out by collecting and analysing the equipment’s consumption data and functional parameters in real-time or periodically, providing valuable information to identify inefficiencies, operational problems and opportunities for optimisation.


Present context


Buildings are responsible for significant energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In the European Union, for example, buildings are the largest single energy consumer, accounting for around 40% of total consumption and contributing 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. Given climate change and the sustainability targets set by the European Union, it is crucial to adopt efficient management practices to reduce the environmental impact of buildings.

In large buildings with high consumption (such as offices, shopping centres and supermarkets, etc.), it is common for there to be inefficiencies resulting from deficiencies in operation. The management of this type of building is very dynamic and highly complex, which leads to inefficient practices and waste of resources.

Due to technological advances and new legislation, buildings constructed in recent years are increasingly equipped with intelligent control and monitoring systems. These systems allow for monitoring and tracking the energy and functional performance of the building in a more accurate and detailed way. However, it is common for these capabilities not to be fully exploited.

Common practice is limited to monitoring high-level consumption indicators, such as total electricity, water, HVAC, etc. While this data is helpful, it needs to provide more detail to assess the energy performance of the building comprehensively. For this, it is necessary to adopt a more comprehensive and detailed monitoring strategy that provides valuable insights into the operational performance of the building.


Implement functional monitoring strategies


To ensure that buildings are equipped with monitoring systems appropriate to their technical and operational characteristics, developing a monitoring plan during construction, typically known as the Monitoring Based Commissioning Plan (MBCx), is essential. The development of this plan includes several stages, of which the following are highlighted:


  1. Technical characterisation of the building: it is essential to understand the characteristics and specifications of the systems and equipment installed in the building and the intended use for each space.
  2. Definition of the monitoring objectives: it is essential to establish the consumption indicators that should be monitored and the functional parameters for each system.
  3. Definition of the minimum technical characteristics of the monitoring system: the technical requirements that the monitoring system should meet are established. This includes determining the type, number and location of sensors and measuring equipment and choosing the right digital tools for data collection and analysis.
  4. Calculation of the expected consumptions: it is essential to calculate the ideal consumption values for each system in the building under optimal operating conditions. These values will serve as key performance indicators (KPIs), allowing deviations and inefficiencies from the actual values to be identified.
  5. Installation monitoring plan: the monitoring plan should detail the monitoring activities to be carried out in the building. This includes defining the data collection and analysis procedures and how the results will be used to improve operational performance.


By implementing an operational monitoring plan, building managers can achieve significant benefits. It is possible to identify inefficiencies, detect system failures, optimize resource utilization and reduce operating costs through detailed monitoring of energy performance. In addition, active monitoring allows opportunities for continuous improvement to be identified, whether through operational adjustments, preventive maintenance or equipment upgrades.


Functional Monitoring

In the context of sustainability goals and energy transition, active monitoring is a vital tool for the efficient and sustainable operation of buildings. By providing real-time data and information, monitoring enables proactive, data-driven management, contributing to reducing energy consumption, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the building’s operational efficiency.

Beyond the direct benefits to building efficiency and sustainability, functional monitoring is also valued in environmental merit certification systems such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). By demonstrating an ongoing commitment to energy efficiency and operational performance, buildings that adopt active monitoring can achieve higher scores in categories related to energy performance, standing out as examples in sustainability. This enhancement reinforces the importance and positive impact of functional monitoring in the operation of buildings.

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