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By connecting office buildings with IoT , they are evolving into smart buildings. Smart buildings are truly next-generation building management methods that improve employee satisfaction, streamline operations, and optimize energy consumption.
Here, we will explain the merits and challenges of smart buildings, as well as the technologies necessary for their realization.
A smart building is a building that is efficiently and effectively managed using the Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, sensors and control devices are installed in various places and facilities such as electricity, air conditioning, entrances, rooms, toilets, smoking rooms, etc. in the building, and linked via the Internet to centrally manage facilities and energy.
This will improve operational efficiency and convenience, as well as optimize energy consumption. A smart building is exactly the kind of building that embodies the adjective “Smart.”
Smart buildings offer many benefits. Until now, lighting and air-conditioning systems have been managed manually in offices and stores. However, of course, it is unrealistic for humans to always perform appropriate controls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
By transferring energy control by “man’s hands” to IoT and centrally managing it, unevenness and waste of energy use will be dramatically improved. Additionally , the sensor also checks the presence and location of employees, in other words, it also manages labor, making it possible to improve work efficiency.
In addition, smart buildings can also set lighting and air conditioning to suit individuals. In addition, security cameras, entrance gates, entry/exit management for each floor and room, and the usage status of terminals are constantly monitored. This makes it possible to immediately detect intrusions by suspicious persons, thereby improving safety.
The realization of comfortable and safe office spaces through such smart buildings will increase employee satisfaction and improve work performance.
While smart buildings have many advantages, they also present some challenges.
All smart buildings are managed and operated by electricity. Therefore, there is always the risk of complete loss of functionality if the supply of electricity is interrupted due to a power outage or the like.
Also, since they are always connected to the Internet, they are more susceptible to cyberattacks than traditional analog systems.
In order to overcome the above-mentioned disadvantages, it is necessary to perform regular maintenance and prepare an environment in which trouble can be dealt with quickly. Keep in mind that even smart buildings that are fully managed by a system sometimes require human intervention.
Smart buildings are supported by various technologies. This section describes the underlying technology.
The core of smart buildings is BEMS (Building Energy Management System).
BEMS is a building energy management system that measures and controls energy consumption in buildings to provide a comfortable and optimized environment. Specifically, sensors monitor the usage status of lighting and air conditioning, and “visualize” energy consumption within the building.
In other words, it is possible to reduce power consumption and peak power consumption by grasping “when”, “where”, and “what” energy is being used, displaying it on a terminal, etc., and controlling it efficiently. As a result, efficient energy consumption is achieved throughout the building.
In addition, BEMS can not only control the current situation, but also forecast energy demand based on past data.
The key technologies to realize smart buildings are “IoT devices”, “virtualization” and “analytics”.
IoT devices will continue to become smaller and faster due to the use of AI, and the cost of the device itself and communication will decrease.
Virtualization not only simplifies smart building systems, but also reduces costs.
And analytics technology analyzes the huge amount of data obtained from the device and pursues efficiency.
A smart building can be achieved by linking these three technologies with control applications.
In order to maximize the effects of systems that monitor and control equipment and control applications, it is necessary to prepare a technology infrastructure. “Standardized virtualization technology,” “high continuous availability,” and “infrastructure that can comprehensively cover the entire system” are required as infrastructure functions.
Achieving these smart buildings involves multiple vendors and technologies. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare an infrastructure that can support various applications and also supports virtualization technology.
Furthermore, since smart buildings must ensure continuous operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, building a platform that provides continuous availability is an absolute requirement.
In addition, while virtualization simplifies systems, it also increases the number of devices and virtual servers. Therefore, an infrastructure that can encompass all devices, applications, and hardware is essential.
Pay attention to the following points when actually promoting smart buildings. First of all, it is necessary to have an accurate understanding of BEMS, which plays a central role in smart buildings. Next, research the data that should be used, such as the usage history of the building’s air conditioning. At this time, check that there is no waste in the UI and flow design.
Then, we select a partner for smart building. It is extremely difficult for a company to handle all of the smart building development on its own. In recent years, the number of IT companies with a track record of making smart buildings is increasing.
The point of choosing a partner from many companies is whether they have “know-how to connect various data such as lighting, air conditioning, and human movement with a network and display, analyze, operate, and manage them in an integrated manner.” Companies with such know-how can provide solutions that link building management and networks, so they can realize their own ideal smart buildings.
Smart buildings not only improve operational efficiency, but also achieve efficient energy consumption, bringing many benefits not only to building managers but also to the people who work there. It can also contribute to the realization of an eco-society, which is an international effort. How about starting a concrete study toward the realization of a smart building that will become the next-generation standard?