Three easy ways you can turn your building into a Smart Building
It is inevitable that smart building technology will eventually make its way into almost all buildings across the Australian property spectrum. Our own market research has observed that building owners and operators on the whole are interested in smart building technologies, however, commitment to investing in such technology must have a solid return on investment (ROI) or a value-add proposition. Crucially, building owners should not be applying technology for technology’s sake, and instead should be developing a pathway to gradual adoption of building technologies to realise a maximum benefit.
The journey that we take our clients on always starts with asking why they want to explore smart building technology – even if the answer ends up being that smart building technology isn’t needed at all! Today, we’d like to show you an insight into that journey and present 3 ways that relatively inexpensive smart technologies can deliver meaningful upgrades to existing building stock.
Method 1: Upgrade the Network
It’s a safe bet that most buildings today will contain some kind of internet-protocol connected system, whether it’s security cameras, a building management system, or even the computers used by facilities management. Placing all of these systems on the same network is the foundation for all smart buildings, and is an essential first step to integrating building technologies. In the industry, we call this the Integrated Communications Network.
By operating only one building network, upfront and ongoing maintenance costs are slashed and cabling systems are simplified. Having only a single building network also drastically reduces the damage potential of cyber-attacks, as there are fewer possible targets.
Method 2: Add intelligence
Vast increases in computer processing power have now made artificial intelligence (AI) technology considerably more accessible, scalable and inexpensive. Better yet, the benefits of AI do not necessarily require wholesale replacement of building equipment.
Existing building systems can be supplanted with AI powered analytics systems that run ‘over the top’ of their respective networks, unlocking new functionality from the devices you already have. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination will allow.
- How about using local weather conditions to control the air conditioning?
- Or, adding people counting functionality to an existing surveillance system?
- Could intelligence be used to understand the movement patterns of your staff?
Adding intelligence to existing building systems is a great first investment into the smart building world, and will allow you to start optimising your built assets straight away.
Method 3: Make the most of your Building Management System
Many ‘smart building’ suppliers on the market originated as building management system (BMS) contractors. This makes sense, because when you think about it, BMS systems are the original ‘smart building platform’.
Many BMS’ installed today were only introduced to control HVAC systems, and little more. However, BMS technology is versatile, typically operates using standardised protocols and cabling, and can be expandable to add new functionality as upgrades occur – such as energy management.
Combined with new energy technologies, such as solar, EV charging and battery storage, BMS technology can deliver all sorts of building optimisations, such as intelligent demand control, management of peak- and off-peak energy usage, and delivering valuable usage statistics. Once more, making the most of assets you may already own and operate.
Making the leap into ‘smart building’ territory does not need to be an all-at-once, expensive, exercise. Gradual investment in smart building technologies across your building portfolio will allow you to see the immediate benefits of data-rich buildings, whether it be energy savings, better space utilisation, or reduced IT expenditure, and give you the confidence to embrace this exciting new world.
About the Author
Tommy is a highly experienced engineer specialising in next-generation communications, integrated smart buildings technologies and electronic security.
Adopting a ‘whole building services’ approach to ICT services design, Tommy ensures that projects are provided with a bespoke, practical and integrated solution. Tommy is skilled in assisting our clients understand new possibilities, getting the most out of their investment in ICT, and ensuring that their technological objectives are exceeded.