Taking A Close Look At Intelligent Buildings May Pay Off For FMs

  January 13, 2014

Today's tip comes from Rita Tatum, contributing editor for Building Operating Management. To facility managers who have been in the industry a while, the idea of an intelligent building is nothing new. In fact, terms like "intelligent building" or "smart building" might seem like nothing more than buzzwords that keep getting recycled every few years. Whatever name they're called, the fact remains that a new generation of technologically sophisticated buildings is cropping up across the nation. Taking a close look at intelligent buildings may pay off for facility managers.

High IQ buildings aren't all new construction; renovations and installation of new systems are putting some older structures at the head of the class.

The technology that underpins these buildings isn’t necessarily brand new. While intelligent buildings sometimes use relatively new technology — like the deployment of sophisticated analytical tools such as fault detection and diagnostics on practical and accessible dashboards — they also depend on extensive use of familiar technology like BACnet and other open or standard protocols, or middleware to transition subsystem data into a main network backbone.

The corporate interest in energy efficiency and sustainability features is helping to drive interest in intelligent buildings. U.S. commercial businesses spend an estimated $100 billion on energy annually. Experts estimate more intelligent buildings could reduce this cost by $20 to $25 billion annually.

Those industry wide numbers are gaining support where it counts — in the performance of individual buildings. One study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at a food services company with locations across North America. The company used analytics to cut its portfolio energy use 28 percent. Interestingly, 18 percent of that savings came from low- or no-cost fixes identified by the analytics. And Microsoft estimates that it will save $1.5 million in energy costs this year from the use of intelligent building technology.


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