Over the years, commercial buildings have been built, used and maintained in the same way. Whether it is a common area lighting that turns on when the sun sets and goes off when it rises, or 24/7 central air-conditioning that is set to a certain temperature and run constantly, most buildings have operated with individual systems working independently of each other. This is now changing with smart buildings. Integrated Building Systems (IBS) are what makes a building ‘smart’. In these cases, all the systems involved in the functioning of the building can communicate with each other, as well as with the energy provider, through new and advanced technology.
Sensors: The main communicators for smart buildings
Sensors are employed in different areas of a building and are the primary mode of recording and transferring data regarding usage. Now that we have the ability to analyze information about how a building is used, through sensors and CCTV footage, it is possible to apply this knowledge and revise lighting and HVAC systems to optimize overall energy consumption. For instance, using photovoltaics, lighting can be adapted to automatically reduce during the hours that natural light increases. And, HVAC systems can have adaptable cooling systems, that periodically switch off and on, to introduce breaks in their running, especially during times of low occupancy in the building. With the addition of temperature sensors, the use of HVACs can also be optimized. These systems are an advantage to owners who are genuinely interested in reducing their carbon footprint and looking to adopt sustainable, energy saving building solutions.
Robotics: Intelligence incorporated
Smart buildings revolve around systems that communicate with each other, based on a better understanding of the habits and behaviors of the consumers of the space. Around the world, corporations have already begun to experiment with the use of robots to carry out certain tasks like controlling the reception area, deliveries, cleaning, and other tasks that don’t necessarily require human intervention. The robots are controlled by the building-wide network and are part of the system on the whole. However, they provide an element of mobility that opens an entirely new avenue of possibilities when it comes to building maintenance.
With integrated building systems, and now easily accessible apps allowing us to control them from wherever we are, there is little doubt that using constantly improving technology is the way to go. While it is possible to add these systems to an existing structure, it is important to consider them at the time of designing. In these times of climate change, IBS consultants and skilled electrical contractors need to be involved in the building process from the beginning to ensure the best results and a truly optimized, power saving building.
Not too long ago, when it came to investing in smart buildings, the main deterrent for owners was the high initial cost of setting up these systems. But over time, ample proof has emerged to show that improved technology works. Not only does it improve the energy efficiency of the structure, but there are also major utility cost reductions in the long term.