There was a time when the term “smarter building” would have made any one of us raise a brow. Or question the sanity of the speaker but things have changed.
If you’re still unclear on how it is an inanimate object can be smart, we’re here to explain.
The Internet of Things is making smarter buildings.
Okay. Obviously, buildings are not formulating thoughts but through the Internet of Things, or IoT, companies are re-thinking how they deliver services and produce goods.
So what is the Internet of Things?
“Simply, the Internet of Things is made up of devices – from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables – connected together,” says Matthew Evans, the IoT program head at techUK.
Essentially, IoT encompasses everything that is connected to the internet and it is being used to define objects that talk, as it were, to each other.
“IoT offers us opportunity to be more efficient in how we do things, saving us time, money and often emissions in the process,” Evans adds. Smarter buildings are more comfortable buildings.
IoT aims to redefine smart buildings by putting the user’s comfort at the core of the system – enabling them to control the temperature, humidity, and lighting while remaining in balance with how much energy is consumed and what’s available from the power grid.
So the benefits of having more comfort are not at the risk of creating a larger carbon footprint – as it too often the case and IoT is great for energy monitoring.
For example, take heating and air conditioning equipment. The way it has worked in the past, and still today in some cases, was that it was monitored and controlled by building automation systems.
This required work-intensive detailed trending and manual analysis to assess how the equipment was performing.
These days, systems can aggregate and automatically analyze the data to produce higher priority information for those in the position of making decisions.
With IoT, the future will provide pervasive control and intelligence that will propagate into residences, while optimization and self-correcting systems will be utilized in large buildings.Internet of Things also means a reduction in maintenance and therefore, cost.
With IoT at the helm, it’s far easier to:
Identify and prioritize faults or out-of-spec operations in a building’s energy management infrastructure, thereby preempting costly and unproductive downtime.
Get recommendations on adjustments to the existing equipment for more efficient operation to save energy.
Find out about equipment upgrades or modifications that require a capital expenditure to save energy and lower operating expenses.
This isn’t the stuff of the space age future.
Getting smarter buildings with IoT is already happening.
A current manifestation of IoT in an office environment is The Edge, a 430,000-square-foot tower in Amsterdam.
Every one of the tower’s 2,500 employees are provided with a smartphone app that from the moment they wake up checks their schedules, recognizes their cars in the parking lot and directs them to an open parking space, assigns them a desk and adjusts the temperature and lighting to their preferences.
Incorporating IoT to make smarter buildings is not that difficult.
In general, the process goes like this:
The first step is integrating electronics into all of the building’s appliances, outlets, essentially everything that requires power to add control-at-a-distance.
The second component is the user interface which allows you to control your appliance while learning about your energy habits and preferences.
The third is the building, as a whole, and how it interacts with the environment and its energy demands to be able to manage it intelligently with the grid.
Still interested? Check in with a full-range IT services provider to help.
And who knows? Maybe some day these smarter buildings WILL be formulating their own thoughts. Tell us what you think.