IoT offers building managers the tools they need to make their buildings more secure, more comfortable, more efficient, and more competitive. IoT in buildings – “smart buildings” - focuses on two areas: (1) lowering costs and boosting profits and (2) improving comfort for tenants, employees, and residents by providing more services.
Smart Systems for the Building Manager
System and equipment issues create challenges for building operations and management. Interoperability challenges are created by multiple systems and data sources – i.e., legacy vs updated/modern infrastructure and proprietary gateways and technologies across multiple autonomous venders. Aging and outdated infrastructure is expensive to replace and incurs unexpected outages and high maintenance costs. Processes and operations can’t work together, don’t use resources (power, water, gas) optimally and are not sustainability focused. Bringing the IoT into your building fixes these problems and offers many distinct benefits:
- Interoperability: gain real-time visibility across all connected systems, people, assets and environments
- Predictive Maintenance: reduce costs associated with unplanned outages and extend the life of useful assets
- Real-time environmental sensing to monitor and manage temperature (from air conditioning to fire), air quality, noise, etc.
- Optimization of resource usage (power, water, gas, etc.) for sustainable and lower costs of operation
That all sounds great! But how does it happen?
The IoT Components
First, there is the control system, which is a web page and mobile app that lets the manager control devices, view reports and alerts, set thresholds, etc. The manager can buy or build that or, more commonly, use a vendor’s product in the cloud. All of that connects to the IoT communications cloud, which connects them to the building management application cloud. Then there are the IoT devices, the sensors and controllers. They measure humidity, air quality (CO2, NOX, etc.), motion, temperature, vibration, light levels, etc. Finally, there is the analytics component. This is the planning and operations tool that takes all of the data from the building and creates reports and predictive analysis.
All of components, from the computer chips to the phone app to the building’s wifi, provide the platform and tools the building manager needs to centrally control the building and operate it efficiently.
Let’s examine power usage in more detail, to see how the IoT works. The building manager has always been able to read the power meter and electric bill. But when the building is smart, the IoT provides data for the manager to monitor power in smaller areas and identify problems such as temperatures reaching too low, and freezing pipes. Instead of checking the weather forecast and trying to figure out what to do, the manager has real-time data, right there in the building, and can smartly access what needs to be done.
Maintenance is a big target for the IoT to address. Traditional trouble-shooting involves a complaint from a tenant to the manager, who then has to contact the repair team, who might have to call another team, if they can’t fix the problem. Time is lost. Money is wasted. Tenants are cold and miserable. With a smart HVAC system, sensors installed in the equipment collects data and provides reports to the building maintenance cloud and devices, which can be viewed by the connected teams (managers, maintenance, manufacturer). Predictive models will project when fans, filters, and compressors will need maintenance and create alerts and maintenance work orders when any of those components fail or are predicted to fail. Time, energy and money are saved, tenants experience minimal distress and increased satisfaction with management.
The IoT system also ties into building security. As indicated in its name, the IoT relies on the internet. Keys and security passes can be replaced with sensors and applications that don’t rely on physical objects that are easily lost and costly to replace. No more extensive wiring and cabling. Not only does that lower material costs, it frees up building space that can be used in other, more profitable ways.
Smart buildings include office and workspaces, too. IoT sensors help office administrators by reporting when waste bins are full and printers and copiers need ink. They can contact the coffee and soda vendor when supplies run low. Electrical power outlets and lighting fixtures become intelligent, allowing individual offices to control their own lighting levels. Someone who needs bright lights to read a manuscript won’t have to bother a designer, who doesn’t need glare on their screen. These smart switches and outlets also save money by matching lighting to occupancy, turning off lights on an empty floor. IoT even helps outside, the parking facility can be set up to cut lights off, when it senses there’s no cars, or an app can be developed to help find a parking spot in the morning.
Get Smart! The Future of Buildings is Here!
Smart buildings is a concept that city planners and managers are increasingly embracing, as they are faced with shrinking budgets, growing accountability requirements, and aging or outdated infrastructure. Chances are pretty high that your building should be a smart one.
- What operational efficiencies could you improve by making existing assets & processes smarter?
- What kind of sensor data would make an immediate change in your ability to deliver services or products to your customers and/or employees? (ex: temperature, humidity, noise, luminance, proximity, motion)
- Are you under pressure to provide reporting metrics on how your buildings are utilized?
- How would real time visibility into your buildings’ systems and services benefit your operational bottom line?
- Do you have skilled technical resources with experience/knowledge around IoT sensors, hardware, software?
relayr removes the barriers to developing and deploying IoT solutions for Smart Building management. We address the key challenges faced by building managers, and help you explore opportunities to rapidly pinpoint the solution most suited to your needs.