Smart Buildings (Part 1)

| Last Updated: 4 August 2022

Integration of the systems in smart buildings 

Over the last decade, smart technologies have been in a constant state of evolution. The domains of applications of smart technologies are numerous, such as smart health, buildings home, cities, logistics, energy, environmental management, security, and payment. The fast access to data from sensors and devices enables companies to provide a more efficient and innovative service. Besides, opportunities emerge to increase productivity and develop advanced customer experiences. Moreover, benefits after the adoption of IoT include development in processes, different forms of value creation, cost reduction, flexibility, energy efficiency, and sustainability management. In this article, we will especially focus on the effect of smart buildings.  

Buildings consume a significant proportion of the total worldwide energy. For example, buildings in the US account for about 40 percent of total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. It is an important step to make buildings more energy-efficient to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emission to fight global climate change. Participations, business owners, consumers, companies, and governments are required to contribute to the change and improve the energy consumption in new and existing buildings to reach the greenhouse gas emission reduction and the Paris climate agreements. Smart buildings can help to achieve the European goal to reach a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases.  

Smart building systems 

Small technical solutions in building systems could offer a solution by optimizing energy consumption. Buildings consist of different systems, including ventilation, heating, noise, temperature, lighting, water quality, security, and space utilization. Using technical solutions, creating real-time insights from these systems can help to manage energy efficiency and sustainability. Sensors and devices in the building are able to generate data, needed to create a more efficient occupancy rate, a healthier work environment, energy-efficient offices, more efficient maintenance and cleanings, costs savings, and improved facility management.  

For example, data about temperature, security, and space occupation can be combined with the latest techniques to regulate the buildings. Floors or rooms filled with people must be regulated. When someone enters the building, the room temperature and lighting will adjust to their prescheduled settings and all the necessary communication systems are starting. Using data from existing presence detection can regulate the air quality, temperature, lighting, and CO2 levels of the room and translate it into possible cleaning requirements related to space utilization. This means that empty and unused rooms can be monitored to prevent unnecessary heating or lighting usage and costs. When there are a few people in the buildings, only the necessary floors should be opened and monitored. In addition, combining the inside data with the buildings’ traffic management can prevent people from using the lift at the same time or standing in a queue for a coffee at the restaurant.  

Furthermore, monitoring water consumption in real-time encourages residents to be more environmentally conscious with their water usage. Using these insights, it is possible to detect leaks and problems immediately, allowing fast reactions to unusual consumption patterns. Data from buildings can also be compared, making it easy to find hidden defects.  

From silos to shared 

These above-mentioned examples show how smart buildings could serve as a solution to fight against global climate change. With smart buildings, the entire chain should be organized instead of the building itself. Buildings must be sustainable, future proof and energy-efficient but to reach this, things are constrained. The challenge is to understand the wave of emerging digital technology in the building system market. The traditional building systems (silos) can be isolated, stand-alone systems, where information and data remain locked within each silo. Many departments are working in silos and implementing one-off IoT initiatives to solve a single issue, instead of looking at the bigger picture. For example, sensors bring exciting real-time insights, but to receive business value, all departments should be integrated and exchange data to achieve the optimal functionality.  

Building owners should be able to view information from all systems in an aggregated form to manage the entire building system. This creates a challenge to optimally maintain the building throughout its life cycle. Most of today’s systems are designed to be digitally connected, which is valuable in the ability to share information and aggregate the different buildings' silos. Integrated management platforms are needed to break through the separate information silos to bring everything together and to manage the entire ecosystem of interconnected sensors and devices. Such as provided by Schneider Electric, an easy integration between systems is needed to keep the building and its users safe. Buildings must be efficient, safe, reliable and comfortable, which can be achieved with an open innovation platform such as those provided by Schneider electric. Users are able to manage and operate the entire ecosystem of interconnected devices and sensors. This next step should be taken by governments, companies, business owners, and consumers to derive the maximum potential of smart buildings.  

Read more on: 

  • Chen, H., Chou, P., Duri, S., Lei, H., & Reason, J. (2009). The Design and Implementation of a Smart Building Control System. 2009 IEEE International Conference on E-Business Engineering, 255–262. 
  • Metallo, C., Agrifoglio, R., Schiavone, F., & Mueller, J. (2018). Understanding business model in the Internet of Things industry. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 136, 298-306. 
  • Ma, Z., & Jorgensen, B. N. (2016). Market opportunities and barriers for smart buildings. 2016 IEEE Green Energy and Systems Conference (IGSEC), 1–6. 

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