What is a Smart building?

A smart building is one that adapts its environment to enhance the comfort, improve the safety and increase the productivity of the people who use it.

Why are smart buildings important?

We spend a lot of time inside buildings. It’s common to hear statistics like ‘Children spend less time outdoors than prisoners.’

Perhaps the most reliable reference for this type of statistic is

‘87% of our time is spent indoors’ Source: NHAPS

Given these points, it is no surprise that we are demanding more convenience from the buildings we occupy.

What makes a building smart?

In today’s smart world ‘convenience is king’. Particularly in the context of smart buildings, smart cities and smart spaces.

The newest cars are most probably the smartest spaces that most people have occupied. Because they adapt the surroundings to the needs of the user. Purely for convenience and comfort.

Doors that unlock themselves. Similarly, seat settings that automatically adjust their position (depending on which driver is approaching the parked car). Likewise, automated climate control preferences, radio stations tuned to personal taste. Add to that wireless connectivity for smart devices, vehicle performance data, predicted arrival times… and so on.

Yet, smart buildings are only just catching on.

Of course, these days wi-fi access is a mandatory requirement of any building.

In smart homes the ‘convenience kings’ are companies such as Ring (the door bell with video and motion sensing), Nest (the self-learning thermostat) and Philips Hue (smart LED lighting); industrial and commercial smart buildings require a bit more thought.

Size, location, construction and building uses vary so much. Consequently, creating an industrial or commercial smart building requires enterprise-scale smart building solutions.

Why all buildings have the potential to be smarter

Buildings, just like people, vary in their smart-ness.

For instance, most industrial buildings already have an element of smart. If you have a security system, a fire alarm and a thermostat it means you already have a basic-level smart building.

Actually, the notion of building intelligence has been around decades with the introduction of building management systems (BMS) and building automation systems (BAS).

Traditionally these are computer-based control system installed and administered within buildings to monitor and control electrical systems such as Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC), fire safety systems, automatic doors, lighting controls. Joining them all together… well that’s never really been achievable… until now.

Cue the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT), is an ever-growing network of physical objects connected to the internet. This enables them to talk to each other.

For example, a smart building solution uses an occupancy sensor to trigger LED light dimming when no one is present. At the same time, because it knows there is no one around, it can use the same occupancy data to tell the HVAC system to moderate temperatures.

This is just the tip of smart building intelligence iceberg.

How can IoT be used to create a smart building?

You can only manage what you can measure. Using an IoT solution and our simple 5C model we can make any building smart.

  1. Collect measured and sensed data from sensors, assets and spaces within your building.
  2. Communicate all data in real-time.
  3. Consolidate all data into a single repository.
  4. Compute the data into useful insights that inform decisions.
  5. Control and automate processes to improve the efficiency of buildings, operations and people.

What are the smart building applications?

LIGHTING

Lighting for people, not for spaces. Maximise energy savings. Ensure there isn’t a single watt of wasted energy through the use of dimming, day light harvesting, and task tuning with the use of intelligent lighting controls.

ENERGY

Energy load management. Manage a building’s energy load by measuring energy usage of individual assets, circuits or an entire building during peak demand times.

SPACES

Visualise the space utilisation of your building. Monitor in-building activity and identity under-utilised areas to reduce bottlenecks and improve operational efficiencies

PEOPLE

Enhance occupants’ comfort. Create adaptive surrounding by utilising sensed data from occupancy sensors, temperature sensors and CO2 sensors.

INDUSTRIAL IoT (IIoT) & INDUSTRY 4.0

Connect everything. Unlock the true potential of your smart building with the use of the IIoT including automated production equipment monitoring, condition-based monitoring and activity-based costing.

How can you convert you building into a smart building?

Data is at the core of the IoT and is fundamental to the effectiveness of a smart building. Surprisingly many people think that there are only two ways of collating the IoT data and making a building smart.

Option 1: Retrofit a smart building using wireless technologies.

Wireless is great for the last 10 feet of communication from a sensor (or mesh network of sensors) to a central hub. But wireless technologies aren’t always reliable in all building environments. Especially across long distances. And what happens when the thousands of sensors need new batteries? Likewise, how many hubs will require wiring?

Option 2: Use POE to create a smart building.

Pulling new wires, Power over Ethernet (POE), throughout a building is easy during the construction phase of a building. Although, for an already operational building this option is costlier and more disruptive.

However, there is a third option.

Option 3: Choose a ‘hybrid’ smart building solution.

Conversely to options 1 & 2, enModus use the existing power lines to create a building-wide communications network. Watch the ‘how it works’ video here.

With this in mind we use the high-grade copper wiring found in the already installed lighting circuit to collect data and send it to the cloud. It means we can talk to anything connected to the mains power lines and connect to wireless sensors without the requirements of many hubs.

Are smart buildings a smart investment?

Absolutely. A smart building can measure its efficiency to ensure the long-term sustainability of the investors/owner’s asset is protected.

Smart for its occupants

Comfort and wellbeing of a building’s employees/visitors are important legislative and social metrics of a smart building.

Smart for business

Also, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘operational efficiency’ are important productivity metrics of a smart building and the operations within.

Smart for the environment

Similarly, using energy resources more efficiently and reducing its carbon footprint are important performance metrics of a smart building for the building owners/operators.

Ask us to do the math

We have more than one business model where the costs of a smart building conversion can be easily offset by the energy savings. In conclusion, the transformation to a smart building can be self-financing.

The real question is how long do you want to keep wasting energy and ignoring productivity gains? Contact us today for a calculation to make your building smart.