July • 2015
The term "smart building" is often used synonymously with any building that uses automated systems instead of pneumatic systems. A truly smart building, however, goes beyond this by using software analytics in conjunction with automated systems. This makes the buildings more energy efficient and lowers the price of operations and repairs.
Smart Buildings Are More Efficient
Buildings vary significantly depending on factors such as size and location. A smart building with analytics software can operate more efficiently than a building that only has automated systems because the analytics software acknowledges the buildings unique factors.
For instance, a smart building that is located in Orange County will recognize the relatively moderate temperature fluctuations needed for occupancy comfort in comparison to a smart building located in Palm Springs, where outside environmental conditions can be severe. Additionally, the building envelope, (roof, exterior walls and flooring) have a tremendous impact on interior conditions. Making sure that the building's
interior environment maintains a comfortable mix of temperature, humidity and indoor air quality, requires a variable set of software analytics.
With smart buildings, the analytics software can pay attention to these details to offer efficient climate control no matter where you are located. This means energy savings and reduced operating costs.
Since smart buildings have software that oversees automated systems, they require less oversight. Instead of hiring multiple managers to oversee buildings, owners can rely on software that monitors operations closely. In most cases, owners can even operate building systems from a centralized location. This not only reduces the amount of money that they have to spend on oversight, but also helps them recognize maintenance issues quickly.
Automated buildings, on the other hand, often need a trained professional to oversee operations. Without someone to watch them, mechanical problems can quickly develop and lead to other issues. It's necessary for owners to have employees to oversee these automated buildings at all times. Otherwise, they couldn't stop small mechanical issues. Hiring all of those people, however, can cost quite a bit of money that many businesses cannot afford.
Analytics gives you insight into the types of maintenance that your systems need. Let's say a building in Palm Springs or Orange County has a fan that usually runs at 60 percent when the cooling valve is opened to 35 percent. Typically, you would not recognize a change if the fan suddenly started operating at 63 percent and the cooling valve opened to 40 percent.
These might seem like small increases, but they can reveal developing performance issues. Without analytics software that constantly measures and compares system performance, you wouldn't know whether this situation indicates a potential problem.
Many automated systems with reliable analytics even have alarms and notifications. This alerts you to potential maintenance issues now before they become bigger, more expensive problems.
If you already have a building with automated systems, chances are you can have it upgraded to a smart building by integrating a new front end into existing equipment. This makes it possible for you to keep expenses low while benefiting from the latest smart building technologies.