The future is bright for intelligent building design. It’s a field that beckons innovation and offers expansive room for growth.
At present, only 10% of all US buildings have intelligent design, usually only to control the HVAC system.
This one statistic promises that automating the remaining 90% holds limitless options for integration. The move toward a world where all facilities have intelligent design and total room automation will be composed of many steps via the Internet of Things (IoT).
Read on to learn more about the latest IoT and building automation features and how facilities management can achieve or exceed your building’s goals.
IoT Features that Are Already Here or Are on Their Way Soon
The Internet of Things has opened a whole new world of possibilities for building automation systems (BAS). Here are just a few of them.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth the importance of adequate ventilation and air quality. Many businesses are now investing heavily in building automation air quality systems that will provide peace of mind to workers as they transition back into the office.
IoT devices can monitor carbon monoxide and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gasses cause many short and long-term health effects—and in turn, an increase in employee sick days. A good filtration and monitoring system can help reduce these harmful VOCs and improve your bottom line.
All Building Systems Managed from a Single Platform
Smart building technologies are beginning to be integrated and run from a single platform that coordinates, schedules, monitors, and analyzes via the IoT. It can incorporate the technologies of many different companies and manufacturers, which is already happening on a wide scale.
Your facility doesn't have to stick with just one equipment manufacturer for building automation equipment. Instead, you can pick and choose which products work best to meet your organization's particular needs and then integrate them under one platform.
Smart Entry and Intelligent Security
We are all familiar with the traditional keyless entry, and the future is quickly moving toward buildings, offices, vaults, and lockboxes being keyless. Perhaps the technological advances in this arena will be from key cards to Smartphone QR codes to fingerprints.
Connecting your security systems via IoT technology can exponentially increase safety in your building. Such systems include:
- Access management
- Digital ID devices
- Touchless visitor access control
- Movement detectors
- Security cameras
Many organizations already utilize microchipped keycards. This could be taken a step further to deliver a plethora of employee information to the system. When an employee lays their card on the keypad at the front entry, they are noted as present and their office “turns on.” The HVAC, lights and blinds may adjust to suit their particular tastes. Perhaps the Keurig begins to brew their favorite coffee.
Smartphone QR Code Entry
Every employee has their own QR code on their Smartphone, and they won’t need to carry around a keycard. They could instead scan their work QR code upon entering the building.
Fingerprints or Retinal Scan
You can tag identifying information to a fingerprint or retinal scan. When an employee walks into the work facility and presses their thumb against a fingerprint scanner or looks through a retinal scanner, the building’s automation would begin that employee's day.
Predictive Intelligent Building Design
Predictive intelligent building design is based on patterns, habitual behavior, and probabilities. Buildings could be designed to recognize the traffic patterns, room and hall usage of the people inside, and automatically adjust the lighting and HVAC to accommodate those patterns and behaviors.
This could go a step further with employees who scan into work. The building predictively turns on different systems according to their usage when they check-in.
Suppose an employee is a trainer and presents every Monday at 10:00. The system could adjust the air conditioning or heating in the scheduled conference room to the presenter’s taste 15 minutes before the presentation.
Five minutes before the presenter enters, the blinds could close to keep out light as the computer and LCD projector turn on and begin warming up.
The computer could automatically sign in and access the presentation (that the employee had saved it to the cloud Friday afternoon) as they walk through the building to the conference room.
Blended Technology for High Functionality and Seamless Appearance
Intelligent building technology will blend into the background of a building so that people won’t even be aware of it. Receiver-speakers could be planted unobtrusively into walls and desks to pick up voice commands and perform them. For example, an office worker in the conference room could say out loud:
“Computer, pull up the Johnson file. When the meeting starts, dim the lights and project the report so that we can see it.”
When the Smart building notices that the conference room is full, the lights dim, and the report's first page flashes on the screen.
You can run self-diagnostics with an intelligent building management system. The software will be able to capture machinery and equipment failures at their onset and could also take the affected section off-line, repair the problem, and put it back online.
If the problem isn’t in the system’s database, the system could search the IoT for similar issues and possible solutions. Such systems could constantly search the BAS to determine instances of waste or inefficiency.
IoT for Lighting and HVAC
IoT sensors for HVAC and lighting control can dramatically help improve energy management. The Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (CEEE) found that energy-inefficient buildings that install an intelligent integrated system can realize 30% to 50% in energy savings.
Buildings will need to combine software and hardware on a single platform for system management automation to achieve that level of energy efficiency. Adding IoT sensors to a unified management platform will allow it to optimize energy consumption for the entire building operation.
Adding sensors to sanitation devices will allow building owners to reduce costs further. You can control many sanitation apparatuses, such as:
- Paper usage
- Hand drying airflow
- Chemical or aroma sprays on a timer
- Water flow (faucets, sinks, toilets)
- Utility meters
Imagine connecting IoT sensors to your building’s utility meters. If a plumbing issue or water leak occurs, it can catch it and notify maintenance. This can help prevent costly water damage issues from shutting down entire building sections for repairs.
Proactive Disaster Avoidance
In addition to improving building-wide energy management, IoT-enabled sensors placed in strategic areas throughout the building could qualify for a potential discount from your commercial property insurer.
IoT solutions can identify and flag potential issues before they turn into major disasters, such as a frozen pipe or gas leak. This helps minimize property damage and subsequent insurance claims.
Intelligent Buildings and the Future
These are just a few directions where intelligent building technology has arrived or is headed. Many more will come. With each advance and step forward, new ideas spring up, and innovation is taking building automation systems to new and exciting heights of integration and functionality.
At MACC, we provide our clients with a wide range of BMS solutions that could allow them to utilize significant portions of their initial investment, upgrade facilities to current technology, and keep on pace as technology improves. Contact us below to learn more about how we can help improve your BMS system.