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A Guide to Smart Buildings

What technologies comprise a smart building ecosystem? Why are they important and how are they actually used? The following post should provide a basic overview of those components and review the benefits of smart building infrastructure.

What Are Smart Buildings?

Smart buildings use the Internet of Things (IoT) devices for monitoring various building elements, data analysis, and generating insights on usage patterns that can be used for optimizing the operations of the building.

What Are the Different Types of Smart Building Technologies?

Various operations and equipment can be powered in a smart building, each serving its own unique purpose. Here are some of the key components within this infrastructure:

  1. Building Management System (BMS)

Traditional building management systems are aimed at providing automation and data for the main operations of a building. Today, the IOT has facilitated buildings to take the process one step further and collect far more detailed data and analytic reports.

A massive advantage of a modern building management system is that it can actually capture data in real-time, and this allows facility managers to act immediately when a problem or an opportunity is flagged.

  1. Smart Sensors

Sensors are at the heart of many smart buildings and are used for triggering and action or collecting data on the current conditions of a room. Sensors are of many different types.

Some examples include:

  • Air Quality Sensors
  • Humidity Sensors
  • Temperature Sensors
  • Optical Sensors
  • Proximity Sensors
  • Motion Sensors
  • Water Quality Sensors
  1. Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)

Accurate indoor positioning offers 2 major benefits: A better experience for both visitors and occupants and accurate and in-depth data on building occupancy, traffic, and usage. Just like sensors, IPS can be used for collecting data on device movement throughout the building.

Besides offering extra services, such as turn-by-turn directions. IPS can be powered through the installation of hardware such as beacons or through hardware-free indoor positioning for Android and iOS.

  1. Digital Indoor Mapping

A digital indoor map, on its own, can provide useful information to employees, visitors, and facilities teams along with up-to-date and intuitive wayfinding to varying points of interest within the building.

Digital indoor mapping, used in combination with other smart building technology such as indoor positioning, however, can further unlock efficiencies and experiences for both building managers and tenants.

The integration of a digital indoor map of your office building with a workplace application or BMS allows employees to submit tickets for any hand sanitizer stations that might be empty, locate the available meeting rooms, , and have quick access to emergency routes in case of an evacuation.

  1. Contact Monitoring

Businesses with accurate digital maps and IPS in place can implement extra services such as Contact Monitoring software to ensure employee safety in the wake of the pandemic. Workplace applications can be used to notify specific employees in case they come into close proximity to a person that has tested positive for COVID-19.

  1. Smart Lighting

Smart lighting has the potential to generate huge energy savings and reduced operating costs, but only if used correctly. Optical sensors can be used for determining the necessary amount of lighting in a room as the sun starts to set, or can turn the lights off all together in case a meeting room is not occupied.

Not only does this offer cost savings to building managers and convenience to employees but smart lighting can also be used for limiting the amount of contact personnel should have with office equipment such as light switches, thus helping curb the spread of germs in the workplace.

  1. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

The HVAC system and HVAC software in a smart building can help in improving control over various building systems, creating smarter automations, and reducing the cost of operations.

Sensors are used for detecting varying levels of various factors, which include carbon dioxide and occupancy throughout the building and fine-tune the humidity, temperature, and air flow accordingly.

Through the monitoring of energy usage and consumption, building owners can be more strategic when it comes to heating and cooling various workplaces.

  1. Fire and Security

Smart building technology not only helps improve the tenant experience and reduce costs but the same tools can be used to significantly improve safety on-site IoT sensors and devices can be used for better monitoring of smart buildings and quickly detecting spikes in carbon monoxide or heat levels.

IoT devices and sensors can monitor smart buildings better to improve computer-aided dispatch, detect fires earlier, supply incident command centers with additional information, and ensure that firefighters have better situational awareness at a fire scene and help with suppressing the fire using smart sprinklers.

What Are the Benefits of a Smart Building?

  1. Lower Consumption of Energy

Businesses are able to identify key areas for savings and automations can be used to adjust temperatures or turn off lights based on occupancy if there’s a system in place for actively monitoring energy consumption. If smart lighting and HVAC systems are used, cost savings of between 24 and 32 percent can be enjoyed.

  1. Enhanced Productivity of Occupants

Smart solutions provide greater comfort and convenience to building occupants. Building or facility managers can do their jobs with better efficiency thanks to modern BMS that help them tend to on-site problems, even when they are off-site. Smart buildings help increase the productivity of employees by monitoring different indicators such as air quality, light, humidity levels, and more.

  1. Improved Efficiency of Buildings

Smart technology not only makes it possible for adjustments to be made at the facility manager’s discretion, but most systems can be automated to adjust at various times of the day or when the outdoor conditions change, for instance.

Such systems are also useful for identifying over and underused areas within a building, thus providing the opportunity for optimizing the utilization of space.

  1. Data-Driven Decisions

Smart buildings, the sensors they use, and BMS allow tenants to review massive quantities of data not available to them previously. With this up-to-date information, building managers can make more informed decisions and showcase a clear ROI on their smart systems.

Estonian-born, Tallinn-based entrepreneur, CEO, manager, marketing strategist and professional athlete. My work have been featured by Tech.com Engadget, Medium and other publication. In my free time, I love to get engage with people, and travel to explore the world.

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