Wednesday, December 02, 2015

How Innovations in IoT & Smart Buildings are creating Sustainable Work Places



As Indian economy grows at 8%, the demand for new office spaces in big cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai etc. has increased exponentially. According to a study done by CBRE, 150 Million Square feet of new office space will be ready in 2017! Most of this office space will be consumed by IT & ITES companies.

Such a rapid growth in office space naturally leads to big increase in power consumption. It is therefore natural that reduction in energy usage has become a top priority for owners of commercial and industrial buildings to help save money and also save environment in the process.

Adding to the desire to save operation costs, government and non-government agencies are increasingly demanding compliance with IGBC (LEED) Green Building Standards. Examples include ASHRAE standard 90.1-2007 and ECBC 2008 and California's 2013 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. In future several new, more stringent standards are likely to go into effect by 2020.

These changes in regulations implies that in future, businesses will need to implement technologies that enable highly energy efficient office spaces and factories and ultimately leading to zero-net-energy buildings - Office, Factory, or Warehouses.

To meet this challenge, several innovations are happening. Internet of Things (IoT) is the game changer and is enabling the revolution in managing energy requirements of buildings.

Some of the innovations include Smart LED Bulbs which can connect wirelessly to a central Building Management System - which monitors & controls the bulbs can lead to 70-80% of energy savings when compared to regular lighting. Smart sensors for Temperature, CO2, Humidity, Motion detectors help in optimizing air-conditioning, which leads to big power savings.

In short, the need to create sustainable buildings has led to a plethora of innovations in all aspects of building management. Building are now being equipped with intelligent networked systems for controlling and managing energy-related applications. Wireless networking removes a number of limitations, such as which devices (lighting, thermostats, plug-loads and CO2 sensors etc.) can be controlled.

Innovations in Building Lighting


Building lighting presents on the greatest opportunity for implementing energy savings and costs. Automated lighting control systems allow lights to be turned off or dimmed to accommodate time and usage factors, providing the correct amount of light where and when it's needed. These systems can reduce building energy consumption by 70 percent or more, and when combined with LED lighting, savings can top 90 percent.

Power saving from LED alone makes a strong business case to adapt LED lighting. But LED can offer several more advantages.

The new innovation in LED lights is Li-Fi. A new light based Internet connection system that will replace Wi-Fi. Light based data transmission can transfer data at 224 gigabits per sec!  Even at 1 Gbps, it is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.



Smart lighting will provide several other benefits such as enhanced comfort to occupants, improved operational efficiencies and very fast Internet connectivity. Since the available bandwidth on Li-Fi is in several Gbps, one can create a mesh architecture where each Smart light device can connect to other devices and data  is passed through the wireless network from device to device. New technologies such as Li-Fi will eliminate the need for data wiring. The savings from eliminating wiring alone is an incentive enough for many building owners to make the move to Li-Fi systems.

Innovation in Smart HVAC Systems 


Building heating & cooling is a big consumer of energy in office buildings and optimizing it with smart sensors and smarts controllers will save operational costs.

Humidity, CO2 and temperature significantly affect personal health and comfort; thus measuring humidity and temperature in this context and reacting to the changes can improve personal well-being. Applications include temperature control, humidity control and quality of air.

Smart HVAC systems can sense the various air quality parameters inside the building and can change and control it automatically and efficiently. Smart HVAC systems use sensors that distributed across the building and have VAV fans to control the ventilation system to achieve optimal ventilation. And temperature control.

Measurement of humidity and temperature can help optimize processes and thus save energy and costs. Applications include automotive engine control, smart condensation control for refrigerators and optimization of A/C cooling cycles.

Smart Temperature Sensors will enable several levels of automation. Knowing the hot & cold zones in the building from the sensors will enable HVAC controllers to direct cold air via VAV fans to the required regions and avoid cooling/heating the entire building. Such systems can reduce energy consumption by as much as 25%.

Innovation in Elevator Control & Management


A bank of Elevators have become a mandatory feature in all office buildings. All elevators have a common feature - it annoys users in several ways. Firstly it makes people wait. Secondly it is impossible to know which elevator will take you to the desired floor quickly. Often we see one elevator being filled to capacity and the next elevator going empty.

Occasionally it make people happy when the elevator goes nonstop to the desired floor.

Smart Elevators are going to change this. Some of the new innovation in Elevator control and management. Instead of choosing the floor to stop after entering an elevator, users will have to enter their destination floor on a common keypad set at the bank of elevators.

The smart elevator management system instantly assigns the user to the elevator that will get him most quickly to the desired floor. Knowing how many people have similar destination allows for clustering of people into a common elevator. This allows elevators skip floors and minimizing stops. It also prevents random cramming into the first available elevator.

Another innovation in elevator management is use the information embedded in employee smart badges which reads the floor details and even eliminate the need to press buttons!

When elevator management system is integrated to motion sensors, it can automatically shutdown elevators when there are less number of people and turn them on when number of users increase.

Smart Elevators not only gets the users with less waiting, but the system saves energy and equipment wear by minimizing empty trips. Smart elevators also enhance user comfort by reducing waiting time and enhance user experience!

Innovation in Water Efficiency


Water is fast becoming one of the scarce resource all over the world. In India, we are already seeing critical water shortages. It may be our most precious resource. Where alternatives exist for energy sources, but there are no alternatives to water. It therefore makes sense to look at innovative solution to improve water management and improve water efficiency.

Office buildings require large amounts of water for Landscaping, HVAC chillers, toilets and taps/faucets. Water also has a direct connection to energy use. Every gallon or liter of water used may require some pumping or treatment which uses energy. Reducing potable water uses reduces energy consumption.

In most office buildings, monitoring and management of water is generally pathetic. How many facility managers can monitor and manage real-time water use in their buildings? Water is often seen as cheap and limitless resource.

Office buildings have two main needs for water. One is the plumbing system within the building and the other is the irrigation system for the building's landscape.

Green Building codes in form of USGBC LEED Certification in US or IGBC Certification in India, have defined building codes that specifies the type of fixtures, water recycling requirements, usage of recycled/reclaimed water and water metering systems.

For real savings in water usage, one must use smart technologies such as smart water meters which can detect leakage and alert facility management. Smart meters can record water usage for specific areas and generate reports & alerts when the usage pattern changes or crosses set thresholds.

Smart irrigation control systems can take inputs from weather monitors, timers and soil moisture sensors and then regulate the amount of water used for landscaping or irrigation.

Smart water management systems that monitors and manages water usage that will change the process from simply supplying water to managing the demand for water - thus saving water and reducing costs.

Innovations in Building Management Systems

Buildings today use complex systems. Each component inside a building has been developed and improved, allowing modern-day building owners to select lighting, security, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems independently.

For real savings, buildings must connect the various pieces in an integrated, dynamic and functional way. Smart building management systems will seamlessly integrate disparate systems while minimizing energy cost, supporting a robust electric grid and mitigating environmental impact.

At the most fundamental level, smart buildings deliver useful building services that make occupants productive (e.g. illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, sanitation, and many more) at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the building life cycle.

Today, Building Management Systems aggregate all data sources and data analysis tools can generate previously unattainable insights in real time.

For example, building management systems monitor multiple HVAC systems and detect performance anomalies. When HVAC systems in the campus have different power consumption - then the BMS will flag this alerting maintenance crew to find & fix the issue.

Smart building management system looks beyond the equipment and uses data from each system (Lighting, HVAC, Security, water meters etc.) to optimize total building performance. It allows buildings to be responsive to smart power grid and interacts with building operators to empower them with new levels of visibility and actionable information.

Imagine predicting when equipment is about to break down. Imagine having clarity into which retrofits can get you the highest ROI, before any project has even started. Imagine automating your lights so that when you are approaching peak demand, they dim automatically. Holistic building data analysis are at the heart of the hidden insights which were previously impossible to find.

Smart Technologies are more valuable when they are connected.  Data is meaningful only when it is holistic. Siloed data causes more harm than good. That's why smart building management systems connect various systems, thus enabling completely automated buildings that enhance user comfort and productivity and lower costs in the process.

Closing Thoughts 


Today, new building management software systems can collect data, organizing it, normalizing it and highlighting actionable insights which are then used to identify, quantify, implement and verify efficiency improvements.

At the heart of smart buildings lies IoT. A set of connected smart objects that create a powerful impact on how people interact with their environment.

Innovations in IoT is driving Smart buildings which not only improve energy & cost efficiency, but also increase the productivity of people working in those buildings. Data collected from smart systems helps architects and construction engineers to build better and smarter buildings that leads to real saving and create less impact on environment.  

1 comment:

Solar Energy said...

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