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The Benefits of the Building Internet of Things


Talk with facility managers about the so-called and rapidly approaching Internet of Things, and often as not, a demonstrable glaze descends over the eyes. Isn't that a concept only for the geeks in the IT office? How can this "futuristic" concept benefit me and my high-performance buildings?

The answer to the latter is "quite a bit." Expert Jim Young explains that the building Internet of Things (BIoT) "is actually the next generation of open, integrated, open architected, IP-centric smart, connected, high performance, sustainable, energy efficient, operationally efficient, green, Intelligent buildings we have been discussing for over ten years."

That's a lot to digest. To simplify, the BIoT is what happens when devices can communicate with each other and run a building with limited (or no) human intervention. Let’s take automated demand-response as one example. While most facility managers are familiar with demand-response or load curtailment as a partnership with a utility and a way to reduce cost on a monthly energy bill, only a small number of demand-response partnerships are automated.

Here's how it'd work: During a peak shaving event, a signal comes in via a utility's smart grid technology to a building's BAS systems. The BAS has been programmed to "know" what to do, depending on how much load must be shed — dim lights a few percentage points (most occupants don’t even notice), reduce fan speeds, or change temperature setpoints in particular zones or the whole building. When the demand-response event is over, the building returns to its regular operation. FMs don't even need to know this has all happened — though they’ll see the bonus for complying with the D-R event on their next bill.

That's just one example. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be keeping a close eye on the BIoT, and how it's implementation in your buildings can reap rewards. Look for several stories, including a lengthy cover story package, in the October issue of Building Operating Management on this topic.

In the meantime, as always, I’m interested to hear from you. Have you experimented with BIoT initiatives and technology? What have you found the benefits to be?

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