Green buildings on the rise

As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, sustainable buildings are an important part of the solution. Whether residential homes, offices, hospitals or schools: Modern, smart buildings not only make life easier, but also contribute to a greener future. Beside the use of natural materials, renewable ressources and an intelligent water management, energy efficiency is a crucial aspect of sustainable architecture. 

According to the International Energy Agency (2023), buildings worldwide account for 30% of final global energy consumption, corresponding to 26% of global CO2 emissions. The share of electricity in the energy mix is growing (currently at 35%). This results in total electric power consumption of around 2,700 TWh per year. There is a huge potential to save electric energy and make buildings greener. Equipped with advanced technologies, smart buildings harness renewable energy, optimize energy efficiency and increase people's well-being and comfort. Microelectronics in particular is an important contributor: Power components, sensors and microcontrollers can help save significant amounts of energy, avoid inefficient devices and reduce loss in renewable power generation. Semiconductors foster major technology concepts like demand-based consumption, condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

From grey to green: tech for sustainable megacities

Panel discussion with leading experts in the world's most sustainable building. Watch full recording here.


Investing in the future

Green buildings mean a lot more than green facades and energy-efficient insulation. They require a myriad of high-tech solutions to work together as a system. A driving force here is the growing interest of developers and investors in ESG-compliant real estate. One of the first prominent examples was the Pixel building in Melbourne, completed in 2010, the world's first carbon-neutral office building. You may also be familiar with "The Edge" in Amsterdam, a futuristic office building that uses solar panels, rainwater harvesting and smart design to achieve net-zero energy consumption. Also the "Cube" in Berlin, considered as "the world's modern building", is a truly smart building linking the technical systems with the operating and user data. Under the slogan "Tracking Everything", over 3,700 sensors supply the central electronic screen, an AI system platform, with information. This allows the heating, cooling and ventilation output to be regulated based on the number of people measured. Or take the Gulf region: In relatively extreme environmental conditions many initiatives are working on holistic and human-centered green building approaches, using optimal cooling strategies and maximizing energy savings.

Sensors are the building's nervous system

Certified environmental sensors for greener buildings

Ventilation is a key function of an air conditioner, where a built-in CO2 sensor is a real advantage. The sensor measures the CO2 concentration in the room and adjusts ventilation accordingly (demand-controlled ventilation). The room is supplied with a calculated amount of fresh air – as much as necessary. The sensor can also operate independently of a ventilation unit, signaling the right time to bring in fresh air from outside by opening and closing windows. This ensures healthy air quality for example for employees, students or patients. And it reduces the need for heating and cooling. For example, a ventilation system with an environmental sensor can save up to 55% of energy consumption. The effect is even greater when combined with smart thermostats and building automation.

Recently, Infineon's CO2 sensor (XENSIV™ PAS CO2) passed the performance requirements defined by the internationally recognized green building certifications WELL and LEED. The sensor contributes to eleven features (e.g. optimized energy performance) that help buildings earn a number of points towards their certification.

Press release (2023): PAS CO2 sensor for certified buildings

Video: Infineon’s CO2 sensor meets the highest measurement standards

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Efficient power and heat generation from renewable energy sources is another key lever in reducing the carbon footprint of buildings. This includes technologies like photovoltaics and heat pumps.


Major buildings, such as shopping centers or office buildings, typically have large roofs that can be used for solar panels. The challenge is to capture as much solar energy as possible and to deliver it or store it without loss. Here, we count on innovative and reliable microelectronics in the inverter, such as SiC power components and gate drivers, complemented by control, sensor and connectivity solutions. These Infineon components ensure that solar energy can be harnessed, converted and stored reliably and efficiently. In 2022, Infineon components were installed into 2.5 million new solar systems, with the number expected to grow in the coming years.

Press Release: Infineon and SolarEdge

Find out more: Semiconductors for Renewable Energy


Heat pumps

Efficiency is also key for heat pumps. Their magic lies in their ability to use existing heat from the environment instead of generating it. They transfer stored thermal energy from soil, ground water and air into buildings. This approach means heat pumps consume less power than they ultimately deliver – a positive energy balance. Combined with energy storage systems, heat pumps can also absorb fluctuations in electricity generation from renewables. In addition to semiconductor solutions for renewable power plants and energy storage systems, Infineon also offers the entire portfolio needed to develop smart and efficient heat pumps, ranging from power modules, gate drivers and controllers to connectivity.

According to the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario, the number of heat pumps installed globally will increase to around 600 million in 2030. 

Road to decarbonization with Infineon: Commercial air conditioning and heat pump

Find products and solutions: Commercial heatpump

Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance:

Avoiding inefficiencies

Fix problems before they happen: Preventing equipment and system failures such as a faulty elevator or a malfunctioning air-conditioner is essential to energy-efficient building operations. Green buildings therefore need ways to monitor the status of their applications and equipment (condition monitoring), to predict failures before they occur and to conduct predictive maintenance. Sensors placed inside or outside a device or in a room collect data reflecting the operating status. The data are then analyzed, for example, in an exact digital twin of a physical device or of the environment. This way, sensors can monitor the condition of heating, ventilation and cooling equipment (HVACs) and discover deviations from normal values that indicate reduced performance, increased power consumption or equipment failure. For instance, in an HVAC system, Infineon's air pressure sensor detects reduced airflow due to a clogged filter, the magnetic current sensor indicates motor failure and the microphone sensor detects noise anomalies in the compressor.

And air conditioning is just one example of where sensors can provide condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. Elevators, valves and lighting are other critical areas where semiconductor-based systems and advanced software can provide seamless maintenance processes and ensure trouble-free, highly efficient building applications. 

Video: Predictive Maintenance for Smart Buildings powered by Infineon

Power over Ethernet makes buildings greener

Comprehensive portfolio for efficient buildings

Smart buildings help reduce energy consumption and support the sustainable use of resources. Intelligently placed sensor systems build the foundation and allow sensor input to trigger actuators and automate decisions; Power management ICs, microcontrollers and security ICs also act as the crucial link between the real and the digital world.

Sensor systems enable predictive maintenance, reduced down-time and enhanced information. They enable building owners and users to reduce costs and thus support lifetime enhancement of devices as well as of installed equipment.

A great variety of innovative solutions support energy saving in modern buildings and turn them into self-aware, green and intelligent buildings – helping to meet the challenges of urbanization and climate change. Power semiconductors, microcontrollers and different types of sensors are able to significantly cut energy consumption and improve convenience and well-being of a building’s occupants.

Explore our portfolio for smart building applications

XENSIV™ sensor portfolio

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