Modern buildings are being designed to provide solutions far beyond just their original purpose of offering protection from environmental elements. In addition to shelter and warmth, new building designs include digital technologies that provide a wide range of capabilities that can help occupants control elements of their indoor quality. The results of this smart building technology are energy efficiency and overall lower costs.
With an expected growth rate of 23 percent through 2024, the rise of smart building technology is apparent. And the advent of long-range and lower power capabilities through IoT devices is essential for their development. Additionally, new and existing structures require dense building materials to help facilitate the deployment of IoT sensors.
What Defines Smart Buildings
At the basis of it, smart building technology delivers relevant data to analysts, who use the information to optimize building performance. The data can also be used for machine learning that triggers automated responses for controlling HVAC and security systems. In addition, IoT sensors that strengthen security are able to monitor buildings and alert authorities in the event of an intrusion.
Another goal of this emerging technology is to create more sustainable living conditions by eliminating waste, while maximizing existing resources. IoT devices can monitor room occupancy and make adjustments to temperature and electrical output when people are not present. The more energy is conserved, the less impact the building will have on the environment.
Smart Building Components
The advancements behind the development of smart buildings include:
- Interconnected Systems - In a well-planned smart building, IoT sensors communicate with each other to maximize overall building efficiency regarding heating, air conditioning, and safety measures. These interconnected systems deliver data to a central location for analysis.
- Sensors - The sensors embedded in smart devices can monitor and control certain environmental elements. For example, thermostats can automatically control room temperatures and humidity, as well as detect various types of danger, like carbon monoxide.
- Automated Solutions - Machine learning software is playing a major role in turning operational data from sensors into automated decision-making that, for example, can help identify waste in production processes. Utilities and manufacturing plants use automation to streamline processes, such as switching from conventional to renewable energy in order to account for power losses.
- Big Data - Real-time data can be used by systems analysts to make faster decisions that reduce waste and inefficiencies. The data can further be utilized by machine learning software for predictive maintenance.
Advantages of Smart Buildings
Among the many benefits of smart buildings, here are just a few of the advantages they offer:
- Increased Productivity - Safer, cleaner indoor air quality creates a healthier and more comfortable atmosphere, which can help improve worker productivity.
- Energy Conservation - Smart sensors can monitor energy usage within a building and detect which devices consume excessive electricity.
- More Accurate Information for Data Analysis - Sensors can detect building occupancy levels in real-time, as well as monitor indoor air quality and temperature. The data can help analysts learn which parts of the building need the most resources. This information is particularly useful for manufacturing facilities.
- Cost Efficiency - By constantly monitoring energy usage, smart building devices help businesses cut back on energy consumption when necessary to avoid high utility costs. Sensors can also monitor equipment conditions and performance to avoid overheating. Ultimately, this monitoring can extend the life of the equipment and reduce maintenance costs.
- Greater Security - Building operators can implement IoT sensors and cameras that detect when people enter or exit. Sensors can also detect when a fire occurs or unsafe levels of chemicals, which trigger alerts to security officials.
One of the early adopters of smart building devices has been the University of Technology, Sydney for control of air-conditioning. Many other campuses, as well as utilities and factories, are moving toward smart technology to streamline operations. Within the next decade, smart buildings will become the norm.