Building Management

Management Services and the IoT

My first post in this series provided an overview of the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings. The second and third posts examined software and hardware effects. Below, I will look at what IoT means to building management services.

Of course, the goal is to create buildings that are more efficient and comfortable while being easier to manage. The Internet of Things means the networking of systems and devices in buildings such as

  • Lighting
  • Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Security and access control, and
  • Control devices – valves, actuators, sensors and meters

With networking, these systems and devices can be adjusted on the fly to respond to varying outside conditions for optimal comfort and productivity. Also, connected systems provide the information to enable preventive and predictive maintenance, which can be scheduled to cause the least disruption.

It’s important to keep in mind what the IoT really means: everything is connected. So the potential exists for remote management of a building in ways that were not possible before.

Take, for example, if you wanted to put a room, a wing, or a building in a deep setback to save energy. In the past, this would have been done on a piecemeal basis with a lot of manual intervention to change set-points. With connectivity though, it can be done remotely. It’s also possible to do the opposite, making it easy to bring facilities out of a deep setback when the time comes to do so. In that way, you can save as much energy as possible while still allowing people to be comfortable and productive.

More importantly though, the Internet of Things offers the ability to coordinate the response in different areas. When moving from an old location to a new one, the new site can be brought online, the move made, and the old location shut down in a synchronized way. Again, you minimize energy use while still enabling people to be productive.

The idea of coordination can be extended to demand response pricing, which involves a Building Management System (BMS) interacting with an outside utility. The visibility enabled by connectivity makes it possible to take advantage of energy price opportunities, which can reduce energy expense. For example, costs may increase at certain times of day or under particular conditions, such as when air conditioning demand is high. So, dialing back your demand at those times saves money.

With IoT, building management services will have to be dynamic. Old approaches won’t work because such management methods are too rigid.

As noted in the Navigant Research white paper “Data Integration for Intelligent Buildings”, the cost of sensors and computing is dropping at the same time that the challenges on the software side are growing. So another impact on management services is that software will be increasingly important.

Finally, another effect noted in the report is that management services will become more vital. Part of the reason for this is that government regulations call for increased energy efficiency. The U.S., for instance, is pushing for nearly 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years. Getting there will mean that buildings will have to do much better at energy management. A taste of what may be coming is that some jurisdictions are requiring energy code compliance certification to obtain certificates of occupancy for new buildings. Companies will therefore increasingly turn to sophisticated and optimized building energy management systems to meet these requirements, according to Navigant Research.

Those management services will help produce significant energy savings. They will also deliver better running buildings. It all adds up to a nice set of benefit of the IoT.

For more information on the IoT and building hardware, software and management services, look here.


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