Building automation: recovery in Europe

Smarter and Energy-efficient Buildings Create $2-billion European Building Automation Systems Market
Energy management and lighting solutions are likely to lead the industry, while heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will continue to play an important role

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) is aimed at improving the energy performance of residential and non-residential buildings, both new and existing.

The European building automation systems market is recovering from the slump it faced in 2009 due to the recession. While the recovery has been sharp, the market still needs to stabilise and expand its growth opportunities in emerging regions and end-user segments. In the meantime, energy efficiency requirements and legislative support from EU Directives will largely drive the market.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan , European Building Automation Systems Market, finds that the market earned revenues of €1247 million  ($1,769.5m) in 2010 and estimates this to reach €1497  million ($2,123.6m) in 2017. The research covers the following building functions: HVAC and sanitation, energy management and lighting, fire and life safety, security and alarm and structural systems.

“Energy efficiency is the key market driver for building automation systems,” notes Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Neetha Jayanth. “Energy management is the functional segment that will aid the growth of this market, especially following the implementation of EU Directives such as EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive).”

In the wake of a positive performance in 2010, energy management and lighting solutions are likely to lead the building automation systems market, while the prevalent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) automation systems will continue to play an important role.

Among end users, office complexes will continue to be the key segment that manufacturers need to address, although public buildings and education centres are fast emerging as important growth segments.

The high investment required for building automation system installation has restricted its penetration, especially in existing buildings. Although the ratio of new and existing buildings is gradually balancing out, demand is still skewed, given the number of existing buildings versus new construction.

“While the payback period on investment is expected to decline in the future, the initial investment required, especially in existing buildings, is often high,” remarks Jayanth. “This is due to the need to replace existing systems and devices, where they are not compatible and to update the communication technology between devices.”

The burden of investment has been more sharply felt during the recession, when both private and public expenditure on automation systems declined. The inertia of the recession is anticipated to dampen the compound annual growth rate.

The adoption of open systems and prospect of cost saving on energy expenditure will be important to overcome the price barrier. Inviting interest through an efficient system that can yield returns on investment in a short period, especially with the rising energy prices, is the way forward.

“Manufacturers should design efficient systems that address high energy consuming devices for each building, while ensuring that the building automation system itself does not consume too much power,” advises Jayanth. “Manufacturers also need to work on adopting suitable distribution channels in each country geared to the domestic market and create a pool of skilled labour for installation and service.”

• See also The Build-up Communities – Energy Performance of Buildings Directive Community.

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