What is Smart Building Technology?

Natural materials, such as animal skins, sticks, and stones, were used to construct primitive shelters. These were the first buildings. They did not resemble the modern glass and steel buildings. However, the purpose of the primitive shelters and modern buildings is the same. Their purpose is to provide a comfortable living space for people.

Today, buildings are more complex due to the advancement in technology. The components inside the building have been developed and improved over the years. It is, therefore, possible for the building owner to select air conditioners, ventilation, heating, security, and lighting independently. 

However, building owners do not just focus on their buildings. They are more concerned about how their building affects the global environment, their company’s mission, and the electrical grid. It is crucial for these owners to meet these objectives. Therefore, they do not just focus on the safety, lighting, and comfort of their buildings.

It is, therefore, essential for modern buildings to connect different systems, mitigate environmental impact, support a robust electric grid, and minimize energy costs.  

Smart buildings can provide useful and affordable building services to the occupants of the buildings, including sanitation, physical security, air quality, thermal comfort, illumination, and more. 

Smart buildings can also mitigate environmental impact.  

It is, therefore, necessary to add intelligence from the start of design to the end of the useful life of the building to reach this vision. 

Smart buildings connect to various subsystems using information technology. These subsystems operate independently to share information, optimizing the performance of the building. 

Smart buildings are not just about the four walls or the building materials and equipment. They can connect to the smart power grid and they are responsive to it. In addition, they can interact with the occupants and building operators. 

Smart buildings use technology to connect to the different systems of the smart building. The purpose of the technology in the smart building is to: 

  • Connect to an intelligent future 
  • Connect to the smart power grid 
  • Connect to the global environment 
  • Connect to the bottom line
  • Connect people and technology 
  • Connect building systems

Connect Building Systems

There are several features, sophisticated control systems, and complex mechanical devices in modern buildings. They improve the productivity, comfort, and safety of the occupants of these buildings. Most of the systems use machine-to-machine communication. However, information can only flow through specific paths. 

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Building owners will need to connect all the systems and equipment in their smart building. For instance, the chiller plant optimization. It can incorporate information of the occupants and outside weather data to improve the chiller operation’s efficiency. 

In addition, building owners can use the data from the security system of their smart building to reduce cooling and switch off lights when they are not at home. If you are not at home, you do not have to cool or heat your home. 

It is, therefore, necessary for different parties to cooperate to build connected systems and devices within the building. However, most of these parties are business competitors. Fortunately, more competitors are collaborating. That is why they have adopted open standards, such as LonWorks®1, Modbus®, and BACnet®.  This has leveled the playing field. This is because it allows every contractor and manufacturer to contribute. 

It is, therefore, possible to connect the different building systems, such as the building’s security, air conditioning, lighting, and more, since they can pass data back and forth. This has led to lower operation costs, more comfort and safety, and higher efficiency of the smart building. 

Connect People and Technology 

If people cannot use the most elaborate hardware and sophisticated software, then they are nothing but transistors and wires. The hardware and software are mostly used to run smart buildings. They are, therefore, crucial components of any smart building. 

If the building owner has a small staff and budget, then the owner cannot afford to train the staff. It is expensive to train the staff. It can even take time to train the staff. Fortunately, a smart building offers intuitive tools. The building owner can use these tools to enhance and improve the efficiency of their staff. 

Smart buildings are continuously evolving. So, it is much easier to share information between the components and systems of the smart building. 

Facility managers can use the technology and these tools to provide more security, more safety, and more comfort. It is cheaper for facility managers to use these tools and technology since they are more energy-efficient. 

Connect to the Bottom Line 

Many consider a smart building as a supersystem of interconnected systems. You can compare it to the internet. This is because the internet is a large supernetwork of interconnected computer networks. Smart building owners use an integration of systems to reduce their operating costs. 

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A smart building can save the owner money in different ways. It can increase efficiency and optimize operation. 

Optimize the cooling and ventilation – The system can reduce costs and provide more comfort because of the modeling loads dynamically. 

Match the energy usage of the occupant of the smart building – If a few people live in the smart building, the smart building can run leaner, saving the occupants more money. 

Proper maintenance of the system – It is easy for the analysis algorithms to detect minor problems before they become major problems. It can, therefore, reduce expensive outages and maintain the efficiency of the system. It is cheap to repair minor issues. 

Reduce energy consumption – A smart building can reduce energy consumption since it takes signals from the electricity market. It can, therefore, alter the energy usage of the building. In addition, the building owner can sell load reductions to generate revenue. 

A smart building connects information to create open access to information. Companies can, therefore, use this information to develop new applications. The new applications can reduce operating costs, save time, and reduce energy consumption. 

Connect to the Global Environment 

The different building systems have been providing enough energy to cool and heat buildings for several decades. The systems of smart buildings, however, are more energy efficient. In fact, companies produce energy-efficient systems to track and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The companies can check the data on the management system of the building. They can use the data to make better decisions. 

The companies use “middleware”, a translation software, to gather data from the smart building systems. The systems are mostly from different manufacturers. The companies can access the reports and analytics of these systems. In fact, some online dashboards are displaying visual snapshots of the energy usage, maintenance costs, and other situations of the smart building. 

It is, therefore, easier for executives to monitor their carbon footprint. Both small and large companies can use the data to monitor their carbon footprint, no matter the geographical locations and the number of their smart buildings. 

If the managers can access the information quickly and from anywhere, they can make better decisions. These decisions can have a big impact on the profits of their companies. 

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Connect to the Smart Power Grid 

A smart building leverages the knowledge residing outside its windows and walls. It can, therefore, start with the smart grid. It is now easy to access the electricity markets. Therefore, it is much easier for smart buildings to access the electricity markets. If the wholesale prices increase, the smart building gets a request to reduce demand. 

Additionally, a smart building gets charged close to the real cost of producing the electricity because of the dynamic electric rates. They no longer rely on the average cost over a long time to know the amount to charge the building. 

For example, a smart building owner can program a utility on the smart grid to read the weather forecast and predict a temperature rise. This will increase the demand the next day. The utility can, therefore, communicate with the smart building to pay $0.50 for each kilowatt-hour drop from the average usage of electricity. The smart building activates the internal demand-reduction mode and reduces its load to accept this request. 

The comfort of the occupants and energy use are important to any company. It is, therefore, necessary for a human to make the decisions. The building operators use the information and tools to make an informed decision. 

The technology makes it easier for the building operators to make the right decision. In addition, the building operators do not have to monitor the electricity markets and react to signals. They can use the technology to monitor the electricity markets. 

Connect to an Intelligent Future 

A smart building can save energy and contribute to sustainable goals. It can even increase the lifespan of the equipment and has a positive impact on the safety and security of both human and capital resources. They create a platform for accessible data to enable innovation. 

They can even allow building operators to generate revenue and reduce the electric load by turning their smart building into a virtual power generator. In the future, human ingenuity and information technology will combine to reduce carbon footprint. 

There are so many advantages of smart buildings. Smart buildings can make the electric grid more reliable and robust. They can reduce the carbon footprint since smart buildings can use renewable energy sources. 

Smart buildings are more comfortable for the occupants of the building. 

People use electric cars to travel from their homes to their workplaces. Businesses can use information technology to improve their efficiency and to connect different systems. Therefore, the benefits of smart buildings are not temporary. They can last throughout the life of the smart building. It is, therefore, beneficial to build smart buildings.

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