As new applications of smart buildings systems and IoT technologies are developed, the advantages that smart buildings offer over conventional ones are growing in number. Investing in smart building technologies offers a number of benefits.
When users arrive at a smart building, facial recognition technology means they do not have to use entry cards to access the building. Security systems recognize them and open the access gates automatically. As they move through the building, temperature and lighting settings automatically adjust to their desired level.
Services, such as booking a meeting space, ordering lunch or locating colleagues working in other parts of the building, are all available through a smartphone application. Through analyzing corporate databases, the building also knows what employees are working on, alerting users that colleagues or specialists in their network are working nearby.
New standards for cabling are being implemented in smart buildings to allow more effective information exchange. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is an electrical standard that can be used to transmit 60w of electrical power and data over Ethernet cabling. Lighting systems, desktop phones and CCTV cameras can all be powered using PoE.
Wall-mounted display screens and even personal devices could be powered by the technology. One of the key advantages of PoE is that it enables the monitoring and control of power consumption at the device level, meaning that individual devices can be remotely controlled or shut down when not in use.
Integration Is the Foundation of a Smart Building
Smart-building integration begins by linking such core building systems as lighting, power meters, water meters, pumps, heating and chiller plants with sensors and control systems. At a higher level, elevators and access control systems enter the picture, along with shading and more advanced concepts.
Integration can also encompass the fire alarm system to further improve safety.
Case Study: Providence St. Peter Hospital
Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash., was a grand prize winner in the Siemens 2011 Smartest Building in America Challenge. The hospital serves a five-county area and has been in continuous operation since 1887. Its mission is to offer health care to the area’s poor at little or no cost.
Providence St. Peter Hospital realized that, to provide a comfortable environment for patients and staff while remaining fiscally responsible, the organization needed a smart building. So, in 2001, Providence began a huge project to upgrade legacy equipment and controls.
After that upgrade, facility operations staff began adopting new strategies that the older controls were not capable of performing.
For example, because all thermostats served by an air handling unit are now monitored, the supply fan discharge temperatures can be optimized to maintain occupant comfort with the least energy consumption. Occupancy sensors enable the surgical air handling units to be set back when operating rooms are not in use.
A sophisticated building automation system program controls a three pass heat recovery system for boilers; boiler feed water, space heating water and domestic hot water are all heated using waste heat from the boilers.
Because it uses adaptive control, the building automation system also provides a higher level of control of HVAC system pressures and temperatures than was possible with standard PID loop tuning. Since the upgrade, Providence St. Peter Hospital has seen lower electricity and natural gas bills.