Replacing manual with digital processes is one way that engineers can ensure that the world’s built spaces use energy as efficiently as possible, writes Carl Coken, vice president of Atrius Engineering, Acuity Brands. This can involve the placement of sensors throughout a project for optimal energy usage, paired with digital twins to provide a wide array of data for operators.



Our world is increasingly energy dependent, and engineers are tasked with utilizing ways for our built spaces to be as energy efficient as possible. This year’s Earth Day focus was to invest in our planet, and engineers can take up this mission by employing sustainable digitalization practices in our built spaces. Digitalization is a transition from manual to digital processes, allowing for faster and more comprehensive data collection as well as AI-driven decision making.

By employing digital solutions and practicing environmentally friendly digital practices, civil engineers can reduce energy usage in built environments and lead the way for other industries to heed Earth Day’s mission and invest in our planet.

To create the most highly energy efficient spaces possible, building operators must have as much data as possible to manage energy use and facilitate decision-making. By installing sensors throughout commercial spaces, engineers can help provide a wealth of data to operators.

These sensors, laid throughout the building, provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how energy is consumed day by day, season by season, and lead to more impactful plans for optimizing energy use.

For example, picture a large retail store and what its energy needs might look like throughout the course of a day, then a year.Commercial spaces often use timers to automate certain systems, such as lighting and air conditioning.

Timers make it simple to decide when and how energy is used throughout the day, but with deeper data gathered by sensors, operators can make more deliberate decisions on a daily basis that lead to smarter, greener energy usage throughout the year.