Smart Buildings Equal Smart Business
by Amit paul
Many building operations today still rely on dated operations practices and systems. While these systems may keep the building running, the issue is they do not keep the building running at an optimal level for comfort of its inhabitants or may overlook maintenance concerns. HVAC, lighting, and fire protection are all typically controlled by a system that is automated and runs according to inputs (i.e. the heat kicks on when the room temperature gets down to 70 degrees).
While these inputs and standards may keep a building functioning, they do not take into consideration the comfort level of occupants inside of the building and cannot automatically adjust to optimize comfort. IoT experts see an exciting opportunity to demonstrate just how powerful and useful the IoT can be by using smart buildings as a use-case example.
While interconnected building systems can bring a certain level of high functionality to a building’s operations, moving a building along the continuum towards making it a smart building can help improve operations, identify mechanical system problems before they become major issues, and provide higher levels of comfort for building occupants.
Occupant comfort is perhaps the most compelling case for a move toward smart buildings. We’ve all been in an office space that is too hot or cold, making the space uncomfortable to work in or visit. Data collected from an interconnected system devices can help regulate temperatures so comfort is maximized throughout the day versus always setting the building to one static temperature at specific times throughout the day. The IoT can also lend a helping hand when it comes to building maintenance and energy consumption.
By using an interconnected system of processes and by exchanging information between systems, data can be pulled from existing mechanical systems to optimize their performance. The IoT can pull this data, analyze it, and offer building operators actionable advice on how to make the building run more efficiently. With a wealth of actionable data at their fingertips, building operators can make system adjustments where they are needed without wasting precious time combing through and analyzing thousands of lines of data generated by less technologically advanced building computer systems.
By moving to a smarter approach in managing buildings, security risks can be mitigated. Instead of storing building data on outdated computers that are exclusively tied to a particular building, facilities can enjoy data storage in the cloud and access building information wherever, whenever, and track data on multiple buildings if the company occupies multiple building spaces. Another benefit of smart buildings is that typically disparate systems like HVAC, lighting, and fire systems that normally don’t “talk” to one another can now be viewed on a single platform in a centralized command center.
A number of exciting possibilities exist across a spectrum of industries when it comes to IoT and smart buildings. For instance, by better controlling temperature, lighting, and airflow via IoT interconnectivity, schools can improve student comfort, leading to more attentive students and a more productive learning environment. Another example of the IoT benefiting industries through better building operations is in the healthcare industry. Interconnected smart devices can help hospitals keep occupants comfortable while still conserving energy.
And while IoT technologies are not the norm in today’s buildings, the trend is slowly growing as building owners and operators are realizing that financial benefits outweigh the costs when it comes from changing to traditional operations systems to smart, interconnected systems.
While smart building technology can help streamline operations and make building spaces more comfortable for occupants and help companies save money in the long run, it is important to note that the IoT will never take the place of smart people analyzing the data and using it to their business advantage.