Hesitations over Smart Technology and the Promise of More Benefits
Another stumbling block on the path to smart, high-performance buildings is hesitation about adopting new technology, including stability and security concerns. Analytics and fault detection, new interoperability platforms, and other integration elements to enable smart, high-performance buildings are still evolving, with many smaller companies providing solutions in this field. Other future prospects include developments related to power over Ethernet (POE) and the Internet of Things.
Ehrlich concedes that the analytics and fault detection technology “is unstable as compared to more traditional building controls options. But they add so much value that even if they are not the same as five years from now, they still make financial sense.”
For perspective, while building controls are expected to perform for 20 or more years, “the average age of a smart phone or laptop is four years,” Ehrlich says.
Another issue in applying smart technology involves cybersecurity dangers. “There can be vulnerabilities when so many things are Internet-connected,” says Klann. He believes cybersecurity needs to be addressed before facility managers jump into smart-building projects.
Gains in technology could reshape expectations about how buildings operate. Shepherd points to power over Ethernet (POE), in which cabling makes power available for LED lighting, HVAC system actuators, even computer monitors.
That means each LED could be “an intelligent node integrating movement detection, photo-sensor, and carbon dioxide detection,” says Shepherd. “The possibilities are intriguing. Through an intelligent lighting grid integrated with presence detection we could extract data in relation to space utilization.”
The dramatic growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) — building and other devices connected over the Internet — promises new possibilities for smart, high-performance buildings. “The possibilities of IoT are so vast, it’s difficult to know where to start,” says Shepherd. He theorizes an individual’s IoT tag could be identified, so that building conditions could adapt automatically to a specific set of criteria. “For example, one could imagine that each of us will have our own virtual thermostat that we take with us from space to space, and that systems would adapt to our preferences,” Shepherd says.
Rita Tatum, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, has more than 30 years of experience covering facility design and technology.
4 Attributes of a Smart Building
The Smart Buildings Institute certifies a building as “Smart” when it:
- Provides actionable information on the performance of building systems and facilities.
- Proactively monitors and detects errors or deficiencies in building systems.
- Integrates systems to an enterprise business level for real-time reporting and management utilization of operations, energy, and occupant comfort.
- Incorporates the tools, technologies, resources, and practices to contribute to energy conservation and environmental sustainability.
Data Interchange Is Crucial
To make it easier for smart devices and equipment systems to exchange data, Project Haystack is focusing on developing common communication standards.
Project Haystack provides an open-source collaborative environment for work to apply semantic modeling (also referred to as tagging) to streamline data interchange among software applications. Semantic modeling is being used by organizations like Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
The community already has developed a flexible, extensible data modeling approach and standard models for common equipment systems. The Project Haystack standard includes detailed documentation for the data modeling techniques, libraries of equipment models, and software reference implementations. These tools enable software applications to receive and use smart device data that is “marked up” with Project Haystack data descriptions.
— Rita Tatum