More and more people are discussing the need for ‘Smart Buildings’ in order to bring physical assets into the digital age. In essence, a ‘Smart Building’ is one which uses technology to enable efficient use of building resources, while having the added advantage of creating the optimum environment for its occupants. Smart Buildings are, among other things, allowing building owners and occupiers to reduce costs, and offer previously impossible levels of user interaction and control.
So, what sort of technology can be implemented to make a building smart?
- The Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is at the core of Smart Buildings. IoT sensors can turn simple items e.g. pipes and furniture, into items which are connected to the building itself. IoT sensors can then provide real time updates on building usage, energy consumption and air quality, among other things.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems. When data travels through the IoT sensors, it will be fed into AI algorithms which will provide targeted, actionable insights that can be used to optimise buildings.
- Central Dashboard. The IoT and AI will allow important data to be collated in real-time in one single screen.
What type of things will Smart Buildings allow owners and occupiers to monitor and track?
- Occupancy. The technology outlined above will help to deliver data on footfall to a building’s central dashboard, which will help to show how many employees are using different parts a premises at any given time. This can help to show which parts of a building may be overused, or underused.
- Air Quality. Air quality sensors can provide insights into carbon dioxide levels, humidity and indoor pollutants (among other things). Such data can help owners and occupiers to optimise their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and remove pollutants to ensure a healthier working environment for employees.
- Maintenance. Sensors can help turn manual maintenance tasks into fully automated processes e.g. leak detection sensors can be installed, which will provide automated alerts whenever a leak is detected.
- Climate Control. Installing sensors which track temperature, humidity, ventilation and lighting in different parts of a building can help reduce energy costs while ensuring staff have optimum work conditions e.g. if no one is using a certain floor of a building, and smart sensors pick this up, lighting can be turned off and heating regularised.
The above simply outlines information on some of the technology available to make buildings ‘Smart’ and only offers some of the advantages that such technology can offer owners and occupants of buildings. However, it is inevitable that the surge in demand for Smart Buildings will continue to increase as building owners and occupiers look to entice workforces back into the office.
For more information on any of the topics raised in this article, please contact Rachel Francis-Lang.