Buildings today are complex concatenations of structures, systems and technology. Over time, each of the components inside a building has been developed and improved, allowing modern-day building owners to select lighting, security, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems independently, as if they were putting together a home entertainment system.
But building owners today are beginning to look outside the four walls and consider the impact of their building on the electrical grid (energy bill), and the global environment. To meet these objectives, it is not enough for a building to simply contain the systems that provide comfort, light and safety. Buildings of the future must connect the various pieces in an integrated, dynamic and functional way. This vision is a building that seamlessly fulfills its mission while minimizing energy cost, supporting a robust electric grid and mitigating environmental impact.
At the most fundamental level, smart buildings deliver useful building services that make occupants productive (e.g. illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, sanitation, and many more) at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the building lifecycle. Reaching this vision requires adding intelligence from the beginning of design phase through to the end of the building's useful life. Smart buildings use information technology during operation to connect a variety of subsystems, which typically operate independently, so that these systems can share information to optimize total building performance. Smart buildings look beyond the building equipment within their four walls. They are connected and responsive to the smart power grid, and they interact with building operators and occupants to empower them with new levels of visibility and actionable information.
Enabled by technology, this smart building connects the structure itself to the functions it exists to fulfill:
Modern buildings contain complex mechanical devices, sophisticated control systems and a suite of features to improve the safety, comfort and productivity of occupants. Many of these systems involve machine-to-machine communication, but because the data is general in nature and the communication protocols have been proprietary, information only flows along certain paths. The smart building will require connectivity between all the equipment and systems in a building. An example variable air volume zoning system that enable communications among various zones and central HVAC system in order to reduce demand and optimise the whole building energy efficiency..
People running a smart building are a crucial component of its intelligence. a truly smart building provides intuitive tools that are designed to improve and enhance the existing efforts of buildings operators. As the smart building evolves, the sharing of information between smart building systems and components will provide the platform for innovation. Various available applications help facility managers interact with tools and technology to do their jobs better – providing more comfort, more safety, and more security with less money, less energy, and less environmental impact.
A smart building can be considered a “supersystem” of interconnected building subsystems; it has been compared to the internet, which connects computer networks into one larger “supernetwork.” In a smart building, the integration of systems can be used to reduce operating costs.
There are numerous ways that a smart building can save money; most involve optimized operation and increased efficiency:
The open access to information is a platform on which significant value can be built. A smart building creates this platform by connecting information in an open format, allowing for the development of new applications that save time, energy, and operating costs, in the same way that new web applications are developed for the open information found on the internet.
For decades, building management systems have automated the process of providing just enough energy to heat and cool buildings to meet comfort standards. But if the data is trapped within the building management system, executive-level decision-makers cannot measure and act on it.
Translation software called “middleware” gathers data from all automated systems components – regardless of manufacturer or communications protocol – and merges it into a common platform for analytics and reporting. One result is the emergence of web-based dashboard displays that offer a visual snapshot of which component is experiencing high energy usage, abnormal maintenance costs, and many other situations that deserve prompt attention.
This provides owners/operators in charge of sustainability and carbon footprint management with the visibility to see the big picture of their building, no matter how complex is the system in place. When information is available quickly and can be accessed anywhere, managers are able to make better decisions that have an immediate impact on energy saving.
Smart buildings go far beyond saving energy and contributing to sustainability goals. They extend capital equipment life and also impact the security and safety of all resources – both human and capital. They enable innovation by creating a platform for accessible information. They turn buildings into virtual power saving by allowing operators to shed electric load and lower their energy bill. They are a key component of a future where information technology and human ingenuity combine to produce the robust, low-carbon cities envisioned for the future.
The smart building is at the center of this vision, providing not just the roof overhead, but also the information infrastructure to make possible a truly intelligent world.
GeoConcept Geothermal, HVAC and plumbing Consulatnts