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Why We Love Smart Buildings [And You Should Too!]

Posted by Dan Dolinar on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 @ 14:01 PM
Dan Dolinar
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Today’s building systems are dynamic. They functionally integrate to minimize energy consumption, decrease water usage, increase indoor air quality, reduce operational costs, and minimize environmental impact. Buildings are being designed to deliver services to make occupants more productive (e.g. lighting, comfortable climate, indoor air quality, physical security, sanitation, etc.) at the lowest cost over it’s lifetime. There's a lot to love about their intelligence.

smart buildings, building performance, rudolph and slettenDeveloping the intelligence behind these dynamic structures begins at the design phase and continues throughout the structure’s useful life. Information technology is used to connect and distill independently operating subsystems data. This information is used to optimize building's performance. These intelligent structures, also known as smart buildings, consider all elements within their existing footprint. They are connected and responsive to the facility’s managers and occupants. Smart buildings empower their users with the system information needed to make actionable refinements.

Needless to say, we love smart buildings. This post discusses 5 key reasons why you should, too!

  1. Building System Connectivity: Modern buildings contain complex mechanical devices, sophisticated control systems and a suite of features to improve the safety, comfort and productivity of occupants. Many of these systems involve machine-to-machine communication, but because the data is general in nature and communication protocols are proprietary, information only flows along certain paths. The smart building requires connectivity between all the equipment and systems in a building. An example is chiller plant optimization, which boosts the efficiency of chiller operation by incorporating outside weather data and information about occupancy. Another example is using data from the building security system to turn off lights and reduce cooling when occupants are not present.
  2. People + Technology = Connectivity: The most sophisticated software and hardware in the world would be nothing but a spaghetti monster of wires without the people who use them to work more effectively. In that respect, the people who run smart buildings are a critical component to its intelligence. Unfortunately, there's no room for expert training and expanded learning curves in facility management. Fortunately, a truly smart building is equipped with intuitive tools designed to improve and enhance the understood day-to-day facility manager's work practices. As the smart building continues to evolve, the sharing of information between systems and components will provide a reliable platform for innovation. Future applications will emerge as facility managers interact with tools and technology to do their jobs better – providing more comfort, more safety, and more security with less money, less energy, and less environmental impact.
  3. Cost Savings: A smart building can be considered a “supersystem” of interconnected building subsystems; it has been compared to the internet, which connects computer networks into one larger “supernetwork.” In a smart building, the integration of systems can be used to reduce operating costs.
  4. Environment Friendly: Translation software called “middleware” gathers data from all automated systems throughout an enterprise – regardless of manufacturer or communications protocol – and merges it into a common platform for analytics and reporting. One result is the emergence of web-based dashboard displays that offer a visual snapshot of which facilities are experiencing high-energy usage, abnormal maintenance costs, and many other situations that deserve prompt attention.This provides executives in charge of sustainability and carbon footprint management with the visibility to see the big picture of their organization, no matter how many buildings or geographic locations are involved. When information is available quickly and can be accessed anywhere, managers are able to make better decisions that have an immediate impact on profitability.
  5. Power Grid Friendly: Truly smart buildings leverage knowledge that resides outside its walls and windows. The smart grid is an ideal place to start. Electricity markets are evolving toward “real time,” meaning that buildings can receive requests to reduce demand when wholesale prices are high or when grid reliability is jeopardized. In addition, dynamic electric rates are a growing trend, meaning a building is charged closer to the actual cost of producing electricity at the instant it is used instead of the average cost over long time periods.

The reasons to love a smart building extend well beyond it's four walls. Dynamic structures are disrupting the traditional notion of building performance, providing not just the roof overhead, but also the information infrastructure to make possible a truly intelligent world. What's not to love?

Do you love smart buildings as much as we do? If you do or you don't, please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. 

Topics: Building Performance, smart buildings