Using IT technology to control energy consumption in Europe's buildings could dramatically reduce energy use, according to an international technology expert.
Heating homes and offices currently accounts for almost 40% of the total energy used across Europe.
Professor Nashwan Dawood, from the University of Teeside, said IT could intelligently analyse and control energy consumption in both new and existing buildings.
His ten-strong research team is part of a Euro 4m research project known as IntUBE (Intelligent Use of Buildings' Energy Information) which aims to improve energy efficiency.
Financed by the EU, IntUBE has brought together researchers and business partners from nine countries with the aim of helping the construction industry and the EU improve energy efficiency by 20% before 2020.
"Of course, we could simply tell everyone to cut down on heating and lighting, but that is not likely to work," Professor Dawood said.
"If our offices become unbearably hot, people will reach for the air-conditioning or, if it gets too cold at home, hit the central heating button.
"The key is to give the individual more information about his or her energy consumption and more intelligent control-systems that will allow people to use their energy in a much more efficient way."
He added that the EU will not meet its 20% target if it only concentrates on new and renovated buildings.
The researchers hope that using the latest ICT technology in building management systems will increase energy efficiency without compromising on comfort.
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