In 2018, smart building technologies that increase energy efficiency will continue to be at the top of the list for building managers and tenants. These technologies can generate a solid ROI by lowering utility bills, making the investment easier to justify.
In addition to energy management, there is growing demand for solutions to address new government initiatives, and integrated security and safety systems. These requirements will help the global Internet of Things (IoT) for intelligent buildings market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.0 percent, from $6.3 billion (USD) in 2017 to $22.2 billion in 2026, according to a Navigant Research forecast.
Once this infrastructure is in place, what else can you do with it? Improving asset management and increasing occupant comfort can often piggyback on the investments made to curb energy usage. Intel, along with our partners, see the industry finding synergistic ways to use smart building technology. Here are some technology trends we’re following in 2018:
1. The next wave of energy efficiency is coming
Early investments in smart building technology focused on the low hanging fruit, like upgrading HVAC units and transitioning from incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting. Now, organizations are going to the next level with room-by-room lighting control, dynamic temperature control, pre-heated/pre-cooled buildings based on traffic, and other fine-tuning measures. Energy management solutions will incorporate more sensing technology and integrate multiple data sources to improve decision making. With the transition to LED lighting, organizations are going further than bulb replacement, adding building intelligence via sensors mounted in lighting fixtures. The sensors can connect to a gateway or network via a low-rate wireless personal area network (e.g., 802.15.4) or power over Ethernet (PoE). One building at a time, Intel is retrofitting lighting fixtures to sense ambient light and room occupancy and ultimately conserve more energy.
2. OT/IT convergence reduces operations costs
Many smart building solutions are looking more like IT systems, incorporating information technology (IT), like wireless networks and standard communications protocols. This transition is driving convergence of IT and operational technology (OT). Convergence enables these groups to lower operations costs by eliminating redundancy through collaboration on security, networking, and storage infrastructure; customer support; data analysis and reporting; etc.
3. Improved asset management increases ROI
Cameras that count people in buildings can also be used to help maximize the utilization of assets, like work cubicles. This is done at Intel, where camera data is sent to a conference scheduling application that can tell employees which cubicles are unassigned and available for use. Smart building technology is also being used to reduce operations costs and increase building performance through predictive maintenance. Sensor data is analyzed in the cloud by machine learning algorithms that determine the health of a piece of equipment, like a pump, compressor, or HVAC. The algorithms can differentiate normal wear from problematic behavior for individual pieces of equipment. Predictive maintenance solutions empower companies to make quicker, more informed decisions with help from big data analytics and alerts.
4. Cost-effective BMS solutions for small to medium-sized buildings
Technology advancement, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and low-cost sensors, is bending down the cost curve for building management systems (BMS). We are at the point where smart building technology can be affordably installed and managed in small to medium-sized buildings. Prescriptive Data offers such a solution, called NANTUM, a cloud-based, secure building operating system that integrates into any built space, including BMS and non-BMS facilities. The solution helps optimize energy consumption and increase tenant comfort, while providing cost savings. NANTUM learns the rhythm of existing building systems, memorizing today’s operations so that it can positively influence, predict, and prescribe tomorrow’s performance.
5. Occupants get more control over their environment
Temperature variation throughout the day is a common complaint of building occupants and, most likely, impacts their productivity. A study shows a socially-driven HVAC at the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix increased worker satisfaction with workplace thermal comfort by 83 percent, which should translate into higher productivity and fewer tickets the facilities team needs to address related to occupants being too hot or too cold.
To maintain a constant temperature across various building zones, Intel implemented a machine learning algorithm that predicts appropriate set points for the HVAC in the building. The algorithm not only factors in typical parameters (e.g., return air temperature), it takes into account many others, including occupancy, and ambient temperature. This algorithm runs every two minutes to keep set point predictions current.
6. Buildings become energy assets in their community
Cities and grids are starting to view connected buildings with energy-generation capabilities (i.e., rooftop solar panels) as energy assets. These highly energy-efficient, net zero energy buildings are seen as contributing to society by producing as much energy as they consume.
In my next blog, I will discuss how new technologies, such as IoT and deep learning, can be designed and deployed to better address these building trends.
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