Smart buildings: The value of IoT
Technology within smart buildings connects building operations and simplifies tasks like controlling building temperature, security, and maintenance through the use of mobile devices and computers. This helps commercial property owners and managers to boost building operational efficiencies and to better control costs.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart building market will be worth nearly US$109 billion by 2025. One of the major drivers of smart building growth is the rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems (BMS). As management systems become more sophisticated and the number of smart building devices, applications, and solution providers proliferates, choosing the right building automation foundation becomes critical for business owners to maximize technology investment benefits.
We at Automatique & Industrie, are a Schneider Electric Certified EcoXpert partner with extensive and unique experience across a range of disciplines that impact smart buildings: building management systems (BMS), electrical power monitoring systems (EPMS), and industrial automation solutions (IA). We are often asked by our customers how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can add value to their operations and how integration of these disciplines can augment their energy performance.
During such discussions we often highlight three important areas that can impact efficient building performance:
#1 – IoT provides enhanced access to smart building data
In addition to water, gas, and electricity, data is now considered the fourth indispensable component when managing industrial and commercial buildings. IoT makes it possible to gather operational data on a massive scale and to easily analyze that data to improve overall building services.
For building owners, the acquisition of the IoT devices needed to gather critical data represents a low initial investment. In addition, many IoT devices do not require a wired connection, which reduces installation time and cost. Most IoT devices are also easy to maintain, which reduces operational costs. Energy monitoring or metering is an obvious opportunity in terms of IoT devices, where simple low-cost solutions are able to generate significant returns on investment. Together, these advantages remove many of the typical obstacles associated with converting a traditional building into a smart building.
#2 – IoT helps reduce energy costs in smart buildings
When modeling buildings, operators have traditionally faced the obstacle of gaps in data that often resulted in blind spots when evaluating building performance. As a result, many building owners lacked a detailed understanding of the building’s energy use, which is essential to establishing a relevant energy consumption reduction action plan. By adding IoT smart meters on downstream circuit breakers, more refined and detailed analyses of energy consumption can now be performed.
Another example of how IoT technology helps reduce building energy consumption is through the instrumentation of a factory floor with temperature sensors. Unlike expensive wired solutions, data can be gathered from these sensors over a wireless network. The granularity of the data gathered makes it possible to map the temperature of zones in real time, as opposed to traditional approaches where operators or facility managers need to manually scan equipment with laser temperature meters. In addition to saving time, since the sensor data is easy to centralize and analyze, the fine tuning of HVAC equipment is much faster and easier, and overall energy efficiency improves as a result.
#3 – IoT offers more functionality by deploying lighter infrastructure
Traditional building infrastructures such as electrical, gas, water, and environmental control systems are costly to acquire and install. Integrating IoT does not imply the rip and replace of such systems. Instead, IoT offers a complementary layer of enhanced functionality through the deployment of a much lighter physical infrastructure.
For building owners who are just beginning their transition to smart buildings, we recommend starting with only a few IoT devices, specifically those that address the biggest and most obvious data gaps. Implementing IoT devices is not about being inundated with unnecessary data, but about having relevant data that will reveal new operational performance trends, which the next layer of IoT devices will then help to better manage. Like agile IT networks, IoT networks are scalable and allow step-by-step progressions in development.
We at Automatique & Industrie support building owners who require assistance integrating sensors, protocols, gateways, and building automation applications. Working with Schneider Electric we implement key IoT tools like PowerTag sensors and Wattsense IoT Box (which facilitates building digitization, enables energy-efficient management and makes it easy to comply with legal obligations regarding the management of intermediate-sized buildings). To learn more about how IoT and new generation building management systems can increase your building’s performance, visit us at the Automatique & Industrie website or consult the Schneider Electric web pages.