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
- 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 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.