According to a study conducted by MarketsandMarkets, by 2025, the global smart building market is expected to reach $108.9 billion. Indeed, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we interact with our environment, especially buildings. Through connectivity, the IoT offers new opportunities to improve building performance. In this article, we will explore how IoT can be used to optimize the management of commercial and industrial buildings.
What is smart building?
The concept of smart-building emerged in the 2000s, developed by several industry players, particularly information technology and energy companies. This concept has been driven by the development of home automation, information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT), among others. The intelligent building is designed to provide a comfortable and efficient environment for occupants while reducing operating costs and environmental impact. It can also offer additional services, such as advanced security and monitoring systems, digital concierge services, etc.
To achieve this, the intelligent building relies on numerous connected sensors that will allow to collect valuable data such as ambient temperature, luminosity, air quality or even the occupancy rate of work spaces. By analyzing this data, building managers can improve the energy performance of the building while ensuring the best possible user experience.
What are the challenges of smart-building?
Optimization of energy consumption and cost reduction
Environmental regulations and the rising cost of energy are forcing companies to rethink the way their buildings function. By installing connected sensors, it is possible to automate many repetitive tasks such as lighting, ventilation or the opening/closing of doors and windows, allowing to adapt the needs according to the environment and to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings by almost 30%.
Comfort and well-being of occupants
The economic crisis and the evolution of employees’ expectations towards companies have transformed the economic model as we knew it until now. Indeed, in recent years, well-being at work has become a major issue for both companies and employees. Providing a good experience to employees has become essential to attract and retain talent. IoT plays an important role in this evolution by allowing, for example, to improve the management of work spaces (offices, meeting rooms, etc.).
Intelligent building security
Intelligent buildings are equipped with advanced security systems, such as monitoring cameras, alarm and fire detection systems, and connected defibrillators. This ensures the safety of the inhabitants and prevents the risk of accidents.
The buildings of the future offer a multitude of digital tools that simplify the lives of their occupants and allow them to automate low-value tasks, significantly increasing their productivity. Moreover, IoT can reduce the difficulty of certain professions and streamline business processes. By improving the comfort of employees, you improve their productivity.
Building management & maintenance
Intelligent buildings are equipped with remote monitoring, maintenance and management systems that drastically reduce maintenance costs. Thanks to the IoT, defects can be detected quickly, allowing quicker intervention, for example in case of a water leak. Connected sensors can take this even further. By analyzing the utilization rate of an equipment, it is possible to plan in advance the necessary maintenance and thus avoid breakdowns. This is called predictive maintenance.
Examples of IoT use cases in smart-building
There are as many use cases as there are connected sensors, but the needs are often similar from one company to another. Energy resource management, space management and safety of people and goods are major challenges for companies, we will now explain how IoT meets these challenges.
With the development of remote working, companies are increasingly adopting Flex Office solutions that allow them to reduce their office space while optimizing the space. By using connected presence sensors, employees can know if a space (meeting room or office) is free or occupied. They can then reserve it from a distance, even at the last minute.
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Lighting and temperature management
The IoT is ideal for optimizing the management of lighting and ventilation in buildings. It allows to remotely control the brightness and the ambient temperature, to adjust the intensity according to the occupation of the spaces and the uses of the occupants, but especially to make energy savings. Connected lighting contributes to a reduction of about 50 to 80% in the energy consumption of buildings.
Security of people and buildings
Whether to prevent and limit the risk of fire or intrusion, IoT sensors provide innovative solutions for the security of people and buildings. For example, connected solutions can be used to alert people in the case of intrusion, to facilitate access to private parking lots, or to prevent equipment theft.
All companies are concerned by waste management and for some this can have an important economic impact. Companies in the construction and food industries are particularly concerned, but even companies in the tertiary sector are expressing the need to better control their waste management. By equipping tippers and containers with connected sensors, it is possible to measure the level of filling of these and thus to plan the collection.
Air quality monitoring
Although less often mentioned, the quality of air in buildings represents an important health issue for companies. Ambient humidity or even emanations from building materials, paints or furniture can degrade the air quality and cause health problems for the staff. The use of connected probes will allow to collect in real time many data which will allow to automatically trigger the ventilation if needed.
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What are the challenges of smart building?
Although the Smart-Building market is growing rapidly worldwide, there are certain factors to consider before embarking on the digitalization of your building.
Technology integration and interoperability
Intelligent building systems are often composed of several different technologies, which can make integration difficult. To ensure smooth communication between different systems, standards and interoperability protocols are required.
IS security and privacy
With increased connectivity and sensors in smart buildings, there may be concerns about privacy and data security. It is critical to secure one’s information system and protect the privacy of users.
Sustainability and scalability
Smart buildings must be designed to be sustainable and energy efficient to minimize their environmental impact and reduce long-term operating costs. They must also be upgradeable, which means they must be able to be upgraded and adapted to the changing needs of occupants and property owners.
In conclusion, IoT is a valuable tool to optimize energy consumption in buildings, but also to improve safety and comfort for users. IoT sensors enable real-time monitoring of energy consumption, optimize energy performance, improve equipment maintenance, provide personalized comfort and promote sustainable development. With IoT, energy managers can reduce energy costs, while providing a comfortable and sustainable environment for building occupants.