How smart buildings differ across industries

How smart buildings differ across industries
Key verticals for smart buildings and the associated big data applications are large buildings where besides high energy consumption there is also care and engagement with environmental issues. “These verticals could be hospitals, universities, owner-operated buildings, government buildings, and A-grade office buildings,” explained Peter Dickinson, CTO of BuildingIQ.

In terms of geographic markets, regions with high cooling loads as well as high, variable energy pricing are important. Areas where the government mandates energy disclosure are also a strong sign that a market is suitable for smart building technologies. “North America, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, China, and warmer European regions are key regions in this regard,” Dickinson added.

Doug Jacobson, Senior R&D Engineer at Crestron emphasized that business-focused advantages and not just energy consumption are what drives solution adoption. “While energy savings is nice, it won’t typically compare favorably with other business-focused benefits such as worker productivity, or improving customer engagement. That is, core business needs usually trump energy savings.”

Jacobson further explained how different verticals have a different definition of what makes a building smart. “For example, in the hospitality market, energy savings in guest rooms and digital signage are important. For health care, a smart building can help patients speed recovery and provide doctors and nurses with timely patient information. Retailers want to understand how their stores are used and how to better engage with customers. And office buildings should make knowledge workers more productive. So the question is, how much does each market value those improvements, and how well can building technology serve those needs? I think it’s too early to tell if one market will be far ahead of the others.”

In 2015, the Amsterdam headquarters building of consulting firm Deloitte was voted the “World’s Smartest Building.” The building, fittingly named “The Edge” is an example how the use of sensors, big data and connectivity changes the way companies manage office buildings.

Examples like The Edge building are astounding, but in reality are not common. “The manufacturers and suppliers of technical services in commercial and industrial buildings have been deploying web-enabled technology, smart systems and sensors, and integration across the different services as part of their solution for ‘smart buildings’ or ‘building automation systems’ (BAS) for the past 25 years,” said Allan McHale, Director at Memoori Business Intelligence. However, McHale also pointed to the fact that most have not delivered practical robust smart buildings due to a lack in common open platforms. “To overcome this massive limitation the industry is now adopting a solution, the ‘building Internet of Things’ (BIoT), to join all the sensors and devices from all the different services on open platforms,” he explained.

Currently software for improving the management in buildings is available today for the majority of the commercial buildings and is more cost effective than big data at this time. But the market trend is likely to grow further. “The ratcheting up process will start by taking the low-hanging fruit and in particular vertical markets and new construction projects where the return on investment is best. Growth is likely to accelerate further in the following five years as big data and cloud services increase their share of the BIoT business,” McHale said. “The value of the BAS hardware associated with BIoT projects in 2014 accounted for approximately 55 percent of the total, enablement hardware took a 13-percent share, network communication services 17 percent, and IoT data services secured 15 percent.”

“The limitation of the existing BAS remains one system, one building at a time, requiring manual examination and action via the BAS. In addition, the BAS is not intended to be a data solution where analytics is an integral part of the equipment,” explained Joe Phillips, AIA, Director of Building Industry Solutions at IBM.

IoT and big data engagements will enable the automation of BAS, creating the next generation of building automation systems, which will accept feedback and provide deeper system diagnosis through analytics of the data is produces or holds. This changes how we manage operations. For example, we can shift from calendar-based maintenance to monitoring-based commissioning. This has been shown to reduce work hours on monitored systems by 50 percent. As a result, resources are freed to address the backlog of all the deferred maintenance issues that accumulated and compromise building performance and condition,” he said.
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