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Greg Zimmerman June 12, 2018 -
Blockchain is everywhere these days, from IBM ads to references in HBO’s comedy series Silicon Valley. But is there potential for blockchain technology to benefit facility management? First, what is blockchain? A November 2017 Facilitiesnet story about the way blockchain is coming to FM defined blockchain: “Blockchain is a cloud-based, permanent, distributed digital ledger of activities between parties. Cloud-based means it doesn’t sit on your company’s private server, or any other company’s private server. The permanence of this ledger means it lives as a permanent record of activities between parties.” What does that mean for buildings? For facility management, the technology has applications for recording property transfers, asset digitization, HVAC system activities, occupancy of cubicles, and security access. Blockchain technology also can be particularly useful in smart buildings, and even more so in smart buildings with renewable energy, such as solar, according to an article by consultant Joseph Aamidor. That’s because if a facility is in two-way energy communication with the grid, blockchain technology can make it easier and more secure to create a ledger of energy-in and energy-out transactions. As many more buildings have solar technology, the energy market becomes more complex, and many facility managers can be buyers and sellers simultaneously, according to Aamidor, who adds, “Blockchain is a foundational technology that can make this complex marketplace work efficiency, securely, and without significant overhead costs.” It’s clear that managers are just starting to discovering the way blockchain can be a boon for their facilities. Managers would be well-served to study this technology now to get ahead of the curve. This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story profiling Northwestern University’s vice president of facilities management, John D’Angelo.