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Local authorities must invest in cloud-based building automation to tackle climate crisis

A recently published report published by UK100, a network of local government leaders concludes local authorities need more support to tackle the climate crisis.

Priva UK, whose energy management technology is deployed in many municipal buildings in the UK and mainland Europe, welcomes the findings of The Powershift Report, but believes targeted investment in building automation software is vital if Net Zero emissions targets are to be achieved.

As around 27% of global carbon emissions are generated in the operational phase of a building’s life-cycle, Priva sees cost-effective, cloud based energy management tools as key to carbon management and cost-efficient building operations. 

The Powershift Report, which contains interviews with local authorities’ employees, experts and stakeholders, found that local authorities are viewed as ‘key to bringing the UK closer to net-zero emissions’. It also highlights the fact that many local councils are ‘already under-resourced and over-worked’ and for smaller authorities, are ‘just managing’ to fulfil their duties takes all their resources.

Cost efficiencies

Priva’s UK & Ireland General Manager Gavin Holvey is not surprised by these findings, but warns that time is of the essence if under-resourced Local Authorities are to stand a change of meeting their carbon goals as part of the UK’s ambitious climate plans.

“Cloud-based building automation technologies offer a fundamental building block for more effective energy management,” he says. “Moving to cloud means local authorities are investing in cost (and carbon) efficiency for the long-term.”

For local authority sustainability professionals, Priva sees the benefits of moving to the cloud falling into three main groups: resource optimisation, ease of management, and access to upgrades and maintenance. Simply put, local authorities who shift some or all of their building IT activities to the cloud can dramatically reduce the cost requirements of having their own storage and processing systems – not to mention the often sizeable rack-rooms they occupy.

“Regarding ease of management, this is especially relevant to public sector facility managers. For instance, they can use cloud-based tools to track and store data related to key building systems such as heating, lighting and air quality. The opportunity to access this data remotely means that they can adjust settings and improve occupant comfort anytime, anywhere and on any device,” says Gavin Holvey.

Power to the cloud

Moving to the cloud also gives building managers access to more powerful processing than would frequently be the case in on-premise systems. As a result, it is possible for more parameters and data fields to be analysed simultaneously – allowing FMs to form a more rounded picture of how a building is performing. In particular, this can lead to the identification of energy wastage and, therefore, further cost savings.

Thirdly, cloud services are much easier to upgrade and maintain. Work with an established partner and they will take control of updates and maintenance, ensuring that you can take advantage of additional features as soon as they become available. “The leading cloud technology vendors are continually looking to streamline workflows and improve efficiency – just one reason why we at Priva use Microsoft’s renowned Azure platform as the basis of all our cloud-based services, advises Gavin Holvey”

Priva believes that because the cloud services sector is increasingly competitive, with both global players and smaller specialists joining the fray, accessing cloud services will continue to fall. This will also result in more features being offered up to customers as vendors look to differentiate themselves.

Call to action

‘The Powershift Report’s authors urge the Government to give local authorities more powers and resources to put the country on the path to meeting its climate targets by 2050. We support this view and want to assure our public sector users that practical, achievable measures within their built environment estates can make a huge contribution to overall goals. For anyone looking to make that transition, we’re ready and willing to help make that happen.”

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