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Smart-building technologies enable high performance, and the tools for smart, high-performance buildings are here today, experts say. The tools include fault detection, diagnostics, middleware, and “occupancy-based adaptive responses.”
For smart-building technologies to drive high performance, David Wilts, associate principal at ARUP, applies four basic rules:
Incorporating smart building technology into high-performance building design also offers benefits beyond energy efficiency, with gains possible in areas like occupant comfort and productivity. Shaun Klann, vice president of Intelligent Buildings LLC, says he believes facility managers are already refocusing on the occupant’s experience. “The Great Recession was all about energy efficiencies,” he says. “Now we’re seeing a revitalized interest in making the building more inviting and a better experience for the occupants.”
Tools for smart, high-performance buildings are here today, say experts. Analytics such as fault detection and diagnostics are proving to be powerful tools for improving performance throughout buildings or campuses where they’ve been applied.
Another key is middleware that makes it easier to link disparate building systems and elements.
“We can use sensor technology to pick up information from such items as fire extinguishers, faucets, and lighting using middleware analytics,” says Kurt Karnatz, president of Environmental Systems Design. Instead of spending hundreds of hours running periodic pressure tests on every fire extinguisher in the building, facility managers can monitor them in real-time, servicing those that need attention. “Predictive analytics allow facilities executives to take maintenance to a much higher level,” says Karnatz.
“From an application standpoint, sensor technologies are mature,” says Karnatz. “They allow us real-time information for analytics in how to better respond to forces on the building, including such details as occupancy rates, weather conditions, and utility situations.”
He approaches the concept of automating building systems with “occupancy-based adaptive responses and the best use of energy consumption” in mind.
Some smart buildings are increasing performance by more sophisticated handling of conference rooms. Conference rooms are a precious commodity in office buildings. “Often, meetings are booked back to back, and everyone’s seen attendees for the next meeting huddling in the hallway, because the meeting has extended,” Klann says.
In a smart, high-performance building, environmental conditions can be used to signal that the meeting is about to end. “If the room is reserved from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., at 1:55 p.m. the lights can slowly dim to warn attendees the meeting is about to end,” says Klann.