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Smart Building: Why adopt an IoT platform

February 20, 2023

Smart Building: Why adopt an IoT platform

A Smart Building is a structure that uses advanced technology to optimize its performance and improve the comfort, safety, and productivity of its occupants. They use a variety of sensors, devices, and systems to collect data from the building's facilities and environment and use this data to control and automate building functions such as heating, cooling, lighting and security.

One of the key components of a smart building is the use of an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which serves as a central hub for data collection (monitor), analysis of building system data (predict) and for controlling and automating building functions (control).
IoT platforms often use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to analyze data and identify patterns and trends, which can be used to optimize building performance and make data-driven decisions.

Smart buildings can offer a wide range of benefits, such as increased energy efficiency, improved comfort and productivity for occupants, enhanced security and reduced maintenance costs. They also have the potential to play an important role in addressing global sustainability and environmental challenges.

Considerations to keep in mind

After defining what a Smart Building is, we list the important aspects to consider based on our experience applied to the projects we have developed.

  • High initial cost: implementing technology for smart buildings can be expensive, especially for older buildings that may require significant upgrades to support the new technology.
  • Complex integration: integrating different technologies can be complex and time-consuming, requiring specialized skills and resources.
  • Data security and privacy: since smart buildings generate and collect a large amount of data, there is a risk of data breaches or cyber-attacks, which can compromise the security and privacy of the building occupants.
  • Maintenance: technologies for smart buildings require regular maintenance and updates to ensure they continue to function properly and provide optimal performance.
  • Energy efficiency: achieving optimal energy efficiency in smart buildings can be challenging, as it requires a deep understanding of building systems and the ability to fine-tune them based on real-time usage data and models.
  • Lack of standardization: there is currently no universal standard for smart building technologies, which can make it difficult to compare products and ensure compatibility between different systems.
  • Adoption: building occupants may not fully understand or utilize the capabilities of smart building technology.

Why adopt an IoT platform, maybe even an intelligent one

An intelligent IoT platform can address the issues of a Smart Building by providing advanced automation and analytics capabilities, therefore:

  • Reduces initial cost: it enables smarter and more cost-effective building automation by integrating and optimizing different building systems, reducing the need for costly upgrades and retrofits.
  • Simplifies integration: an IoT platform simplifies the integration of different smart building technologies by providing a unified interface for managing and monitoring building systems and automating data exchange between different systems.
  • Improves data security and privacy: an IoT platform with AI capabilities improves data security and privacy by providing advanced encryption and authentication capabilities, as well as real-time monitoring and alerts to detect and prevent cyber attacks.
  • Optimizes maintenance: by providing real-time monitoring and analysis of building systems, identifying potential problems before they become critical, and automating maintenance activities.
  • Increases energy efficiency: by using real-time acquired data and machine learning algorithms to optimize building systems and reduce energy consumption.
  • Standardization: an IoT platform standardizes the data acquired into a common platform and ensures the integration of different technologies by automating data exchange and control between different systems.
  • Improves occupant engagement: by providing occupants with real-time information on systems and services and allowing them to interact with building systems through mobile applications and other user interfaces.
source Senseware

A different point of view: costs, sustainability, and social impact.

An intelligent IoT platform can provide several benefits in terms of cost reduction, sustainability, and social impact:

  • Cost reduction: an IoT platform with AI functionality can help reduce costs by optimizing building systems and equipment, reducing energy consumption, as well as automating maintenance activities and reducing the need for manual interventions.
    • Example -> Greater efficiency: IoT with AI functionality can automate routine activities and enable remote monitoring and control, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings.
  • Sustainability: an IoT platform with AI functionality can improve sustainability by reducing energy consumption and emissions, as well as providing real-time monitoring and analysis to identify and address environmental issues in the building.
    • Example -> Energy management: IoT with AI functionality can enable real-time monitoring and control of energy usage, identify inefficiencies, and reduce energy costs.
  • Social impact: an IoT platform with AI functionality can improve the social impact of a building by providing a comfortable and safe environment for occupants, as well as providing real-time information and services to improve the overall quality of life in the building.
    • Example -> Better indoor air quality: IoT with AI functionality can monitor and control indoor air quality, detecting temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, and other parameters and adjusting the HVAC system, lighting, and other systems to provide an optimal environment for occupants.
    • Example -> Better comfort: IoT with AI functionality can monitor and adjust temperature, lighting, and other environmental factors in real-time to provide a comfortable and safe environment for building occupants.
image credit Jerry Yudelson

Some useful data on the benefits obtained through the adoption of an IoT platform in a Smart Building project

The exact percentage of cost reduction, energy savings, and other benefits depends on many factors such as the specific implementation and goals.

There are several studies from authoritative sources that have estimated the benefits under certain conditions.

For example, according to a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, smart building projects can save building owners up to 20-30% on energy costs and up to 15-20% on maintenance costs.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported in a study that, on average, commercial buildings can achieve energy savings of up to 20% by implementing IoT-enabled building automation systems.

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute reported that IoT-enabled building systems can reduce energy consumption by 10-20% and improve overall building efficiency by 5-15%.

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