The use of building automation is not a new phenomenon. In fact, with the rapid advancement in technology and the development of IoT making connected devices a reality, the concept of building management has undergone a paradigm shift.
Data by the United Nations indicates that until 2019, the overall global population in urban areas had increased to 55.7%. The concentration of people in urban areas in developed countries is almost 81%. In comparison, 51% of the developing world population lives in urban areas, implying that urban areas have a greater concentration of workplaces. Also, with the growing population, environmental concerns are amplified, reinforcing the idea that smart buildings are not just about managing building infrastructure or operations. A smart building also addresses other aspects such as occupant experience, their health and safety, energy management, sustainability, and cost efficiencies, resulting in heightened user experiences.
Smart buildings: the growing need and opportunity
It’s no surprise that the market for smart buildings is growing exponentially. A Markets & Markets report evaluated the smart building market at $66.3 billion in 2002, which can grow by a CAGR of 10.5% to $108.9 billion by 2025. The report further elucidates that the drivers for this growth include:
- The increasing adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems
- Rising awareness of space utilization
- Increased industry standards and regulations
- Increased demand for energy-efficient systems.
A smart building uses sensors to collect data related to different aspects of the building. This data is of significant value to facilities managers. The newer technologies help measure asset functioning and overall asset health. With the IoT, building managers can now easily compute the efficiency of assets and equipment in real-time, with prompt notifications enabled via integrated and interconnected systems. Using sensors deployed through the interconnected systems helps enhance asset life and ensure occupant safety.
Sustainability – driving the need for smart buildings
Buildings and building construction contribute to one-third of the global energy consumption and almost 40% of CO2 emissions. Smart buildings go beyond just employee productivity and safety. They contribute significantly to energy savings and sustainability. With growing awareness and the drive to reduce the carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency, smart buildings have the potential to be significant contributors. Data is critical to facilitating energy management. The convergence of IoT and other technologies such as AI, sensors, and smart data ensures abundant data availability, making it simpler to track energy usage and consumption. The prudent use of technology in smart buildings provides efficient energy consumption management and monitoring.
Smart technology for smart buildings in the new normal
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations had already leveraged the new age technology stack consisting of IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digitization extensively to make rapid changes in workplace infrastructure, facilities, practices, and how employees worked. In the present context, the significance of these technologies in business success is manifold.
Today, IoT is one of the key technologies that enable smart building systems. IoT enables facility systems to work synergistically, enabling the seamless management of temperature control, ventilation, occupancy, elevators, common area usage, and overall employee and visitor comfort through a single pane of view. Plus, this can be done on-site or remotely. Today, IoT sensors are helping companies save energy and costs. Future-thinking companies are no longer creating a physical workspace for every employee. Occupancy sensors and other smart technologies provide accurate data about workspace utilization, thereby enabling the business to free up unutilized workspaces. A contactless desk booking system can further enable seamless and smart operations. A smart attendance facility for employees working from home can help workspace planning and, in turn, provide valuable data to the human resources (HR) team. With the growing impact of social distancing, the sensors can detect employees who do not follow safety protocols and alert the relevant teams, making contact tracing seamless and effective. Visitors can be monitored successfully, right from arrival on the premises through the parking slot allocation to the specific conference or meeting rooms they are in. With sub-optimal occupancy in office spaces today, IoT-enabled sensors can detect hazards, control temperature, regulate lighting, and help in energy saving to provide a better work environment.