Digitalization makes for smarter buildings

Digitalization makes for smarter buildings
Imagine having the ability to plan out all the various disciplines that goes into a smart building, testing how they work together and correcting problems, all before the actual construction of the building. For many developers, this is but a distant dream. However, according to Helmut Macht, CTO for Siemens Building Technologies, this dream is on its way to becoming a reality due to digitalization.

In the technical report entitled, “A central nervous system for buildings,” Macht touched upon the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and how it can enhance the design of the backbone for smart buildings.

The BIM process involves the creation of the so-called “digital twins” – the construction of not only a physical building, but a virtual model as well, allowing for early planning and problem solving as well as the determination of how one system of the building would affect the others.

“Since planning for the various disciplines takes place at the same time, it is possible to create coordinated multi-discipline solutions. In the past, this was difficult to achieve because of the project award practices in use. Virtual planning and the use of a common data model allows early verification even of detailed variants in order to optimize the building,” the report stated.

According to the report, cloud computing and the increased availability of stable networks and devices, which are easing the way for various parties involved in the project to closely work together and coordinate their designs, are factors pushing its application forward in construction projects. However, the use of BIM is still hampered by factors such as technical limitations, high cost, lack of standards and interfaces, and stakeholders having different interests acting independently.

Smart Interconnectivity
The Internet of Things (IoT) and the resulting increased interconnectivity between machines and devices have also influenced how developers are designing smart buildings, business models and services.

“Sensors, actuators and similar devices supply a wealth of valuable information, most of which remains unused. Intelligent evaluation using big data applications could combine these massive but unstructured amounts of data into transparent and linked performance indicators – in real time. Smart algorithms evaluate trends and recognize patterns in user behavior or consumption, thus enabling informed decisions, predictive strategies and continuous optimization. This, together with sophisticated self-optimization functions, gives buildings a central nervous system – making them smart,” the report said.

Not only can this building intelligence be leveraged to ensure pleasant living and working environments, it can also ensure smooth building operations. Remote service solutions and preventative maintenance concepts can be implemented so that problems are quickly detected and efficiently dealt with.

This is also advantageous in terms of cutting down on energy wastage. Automatic monitoring and control of building systems such as lighting, heating and security, can improve energy efficiency. The report also stated that the incorporation of energy generating systems such as photovoltaics, wind power or combined heat and power plants (CHP) can create “zero net energy buildings.”

This digitalization trend will encourage developers to design buildings that can sense and respond intelligently to ever-changing environments, enhancing security, energy-efficiency and smooth building operations.
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