4 Benefits of turning a building smart: Siemens
Source: Elvina Yang
Buildings have existed for thousands of years. People see them as a shelter, or a home, and spend a large proportion of their time indoors. As technology advances, smart buildings have changed the definition of a building. However, why does a building need to be smart?
"With digitalization, the building now gets to know about its occupants. It can provide feedback, not only to the residents, but also to the facility managers and owners. So to me, a smart building is one that doesn't just stand there, but one that understands its environment, interacts, learns and adapts," said Cedrik Neike, CEO of Siemens Smart Infrastructure
and member of the Siemens Managing Board, via an interview circulated in press release by Siemens.
One: Good for everyone - from owners to residents
For building owners, a smart building adds value by giving feedback, for example, how tasks can be completed more efficiently. Problems can be detected before they become real issues, which helps to reduce operating costs and increase productivity.
For people living in smart buildings
, they can feel more comfortable, safe and secure. The building realizes when people are inside, and will make sure the correct room temperature and ideal air quality
will be provided. Feeling eco-friendly is seen as an important component of smart buildings for smart building owners.
Two: Save building energy consumption
With a central system and digitalization, buildings are becoming heating rooms that don't need to be heated and lighting rooms that don't need to be lit. According to Neike, up to 50 percent of the energy an average building consumers is being wasted.
"According to recent studies, improvements through digitalization and interconnectivity can reduce a building's ecological footprint up to 80 percent compared to an average building," said Neike.
Furthermore, he suggested, buildings could also produce energy and become intelligent prosumers that interact with the world in the future.
Three: Sell extra energy
Siemens has received a research grant from the Canadian government and conducted a program on smart buildings in Canada. The company started from integrating the buildings into the grid
, and then moved onto storing excess energy, such as heat in boilers. In this instance, the building is like a heat battery, being charged with extra heat and providing energy as needed.
Siemens is experimenting on a system which allows shaving peak loads and storing energy for times when there are lower production levels. Its goal for the Canadian project is to let buildings become part of a distributed power plant
. "If it works out, one or two coal-fired power plants won't need to be built," said Neike.
Since the building provides extra energy, it can further become a productive asset in the ecosystem. Siemens has worked with a startup called LO3 in Brooklyn, New York City and built a microgrid using blockchain, which allows a building owner to sell his excess solar capacity for people in the neighborhood running their air conditioning, instead of using energy from a power plant.
Four: Complete a smart city
Once the smart buildings become connected to a smart city's electricity grid, the gas, water and heating grid, they will turn into part of the smart ecosystem. It's similar to the concept that all computers are connected to each other through the Internet. Therefore, cities are becoming smarter as buildings located in the city become smarter.
Data Analysis is Critical
By 2020, up to 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things, with one fifth of these being used in buildings, suggested Neike. The set of data generated by IoT device will be immense and only keep growing.
"Capturing this data is important, but not enough. The key to smart buildings is how the data is used and analyzed. This allows a building to be more flexible, more personal and, ultimately, more productive for us humans," said Neike.