Transforming Building Automation with IoT

Taking Building Automation to the Next Level

For many building owners or facility managers, the Building Automation Systems they already have in place is functional and well-established and the building is generally operating the way it should. And for a long time, many in the industry were hesitant to use IoT to create smart buildings – they thought it would introduce unwanted costs and unnecessary complexity.  Times have changed, though, and today IoT is having a transformative effect on smart building automation and control, offering both cost savings and optimization opportunities, as well as increased sustainability 

The majority of Building Automation Systems (BMS) we see today serve the same purpose they did when first introduced in the late 1800s: simplified management of core building functions, particularly when it comes to HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) equipment. While some things have evolved, such as the shift from pneumatic systems to computer-based control systems, most buildings remain energy inefficient and difficult to maintain, and often don’t fully serve the needs of occupants.  

By disrupting long-established BMS models with IoT, there are significant opportunities to improve building efficiency in a variety of ways, which in turn will lead to cost-savings and the development of innovative services. Additionally, the way buildings are being planned and constructed is also changing, with IoT technology being used from the word go to reduce power consumption, increase energy savings, and create more sustainable buildings.  

Here are five areas where building automation can have a big impact:  

  • Energy efficiency
  • Security & safety
  • Water management
  • Maintenance
  • Occupant comfort

Traditionally, these systems have often been disconnected from one another and from the central BMS. In a smart building, though, these systems feed into a central network and operate in sync with one another, leading to improved operational efficiencies. 

Energy efficiency 

Energy efficiency has long been at the core of BMS implementation, yet buildings still account for roughly 40% of global Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) – with 30% of building energy being wasted. Despite efforts to reduce their footprint, most buildings remain largely inefficient. HVAC equipment has traditionally been regulated in a uniform, predefined way, leading to overheating or underheating across the facility.  

Smart energy can be created by using IoT technology to identify key areas where energy is wasted and where energy costs can be minimized. Data generated by sensors at the building level can be used to optimize and regulate HVAC equipment. For example, your building’s HVAC system is set to operate until 8 PM, but your building rarely has anyone in it after, just say 6 pm.  Systems can be connected to automate HVAC operations, turning off lights when someone leaves a room or controlling room temperatures based on occupancy. By making relevant adjustments you can save on both energy and costs. Additionally, wireless submeters deliver consumption data on individual assets or building areas, and these insights allow you to swiftly identity and locate where improvements can be made.  

Building automations systems are already being widely introduced into new builds, but they can also be retrofitted to existing buildings, giving you the energy saving benefits of a smart building.  

Security & safety 

Access control is a fundamental aspect of security for every building and organization where restricted access is a necessary, including for schools, hospitals, offices, and even hotels. The primary driver of access control is to safeguard people and to protect physical and intellectual property. Most of us probably already use key cards, but with IoT another layer is added to the mix.  With key cards and connected ‘checkpoints’, remote access control is possible, with doors that can be locked remotely, and the ability to track and program door access at any time. You can customize who has access to which room, and you can make changes as needed – and you can do it immediately.  

 

 

Data collected by smart access systems can in turn be used as part of a more cohesive smart building strategy, helping you understand usage patterns and traffic flow. That data, of course, needs to be protected 

Someone gaining access to your smart building data can leave your building inoperable or with long periods of operational downtime. Critical and/or sensitive data can also be breached, and there can even be a threat to physical safety. As a result, it’s important to secure not just things like hardware and software, but also to address rights management and how information is stored. You can learn more about IoT and Security here 

Water management 

The average person spends about 90% of their time indoors, and the average family uses around 300 liters of water each day, while the average office worker uses up to 30 liters per day while at work. At the same time, water resources are becoming increasingly scarce, so monitoring water consumption and taking appropriate measures to reduce it is imperative – but keeping track of it manually is pretty much impossible.  

Embedding IoT-enabled sensors in water supply channels that go to toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, water tanks, and other water consuming things gives you the data you need to understand where excess consumption is happening. Sensors can also alert facility managers to other issues, such as water leakage or other problems with remote pipes. This can have a two-fold impact: water leakages can have knock-on effects, causing damage to a building’s infrastructure or promoting the growth of mold. And a mere 3.2 mm crack in a pipe can cause up to 1000 liters of water leakage a day.  

Understanding and being aware of problems before they spiral out of control saves money and limits disruption.

Maintenance 

In the IoT world we talk a lot about maintenance – and more specifically, predictive maintenance – because we know that the longer a potential maintenance problem goes unchecked, the more likely it will be bigger and more challenging to fix. And having equipment out of commission or in disrepair can mean potential health and/or safety concerns. 

In a smart building, IoT sensors and other hardware devices monitor the state of your building and all the equipment in it. This lets you know when maintenance needs to be performed before there is a problem, doing away with scheduled and often unnecessary maintenance rounds, which means better use of manpower and cost savings.   

Additionally, unexpected issues are bound to arise, and they are often not visible to the naked eye. Sensors can detect potential problems long before anyone in the office or home becomes aware and will send alerts and information to building managers so that they can act immediately, staving off what could be a costly breakdown of a system or piece of equipment. This also reduces tenant disruption and saves money in the long run.  

Occupant comfort 

And finally, the whole idea of keeping a building or facility running smoothly is to keep the people who work or live inside it comfortableFacility owners and managers know and understand the importance of good tenant relationships, and smart buildings are designed to support that.  

Many of the above areas contribute to occupant comfort, with indoor temperatures, air quality, lighting, and humidity all playing into occupants’ well-being and productivity. IoT sensors monitor all of these and allow you to fine-tune as you go, helping you to maintain an optimal and healthy indoor environment.  Data from sensors can also help you accurately assess traffic and usage in different parts of the building in order to prioritize things like cleaning activities, ensuring good sanitation and well-maintained amenities.  

At the end of the day, IoT can help you understand how your building or facility is operating on many different levels, while also ensuring safety, security, and comfort.

If you would like to learn more about how Tele2 IoT can help you improve your building management, please get in touch.