What are Smart Buildings?
A smart building is a space that uses a connected network of devices to collect, receive, and send data so that the building can more efficiently manage its energy use. A smart building can adjust its energy usage depending on factors like human presence, such as with occupancy and vacancy sensors, control lights and other devices on an automated schedule, and allow remote monitoring and operation of lights, electronics, appliances, and other connected devices.
Smart buildings will be important tools for energy use reduction in the coming decades. This is promising since smart buildings have been shown to decrease the amount of energy use in a building by a fifth. In the past, though, the cost and lack of technological sophistication hindered the industry’s growth, Now, this once limited, expensive technology is becoming available to a wide variety of consumers and businesses. New building construction projects have the benefit of being able to custom-fit houses and commercial spaces with smart devices, sensors, lights, and appliances. As it becomes much more cost-effective to upgrade your space to smart technology and build a network of connected devices that will increase the efficiency of your energy use, it is likely that smart building technology will go from being obscure to essential in the years to come.
One of the main ways that smart buildings connect a wide range of devices is through what has become known as the Internet of Things. Using the internet, the range of connectable objects in a space has increased by leaps and bounds, opening up a whole new world of cross-network compatibility. IoT will help buildings access more data and improve how smart buildings, or digital buildings, function into the future.
How does the Internet of things impact Smart Buildings?
The Internet of Things is defined as the extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Essentially, the Internet of Things, or IoT, functions with a combination of electronics, internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware (such as occupancy and vacancy sensors) by allowing them to communicate and interact with each other over the internet, while also granting users the ability to remotely monitor and control these various devices over smartphone, tablet, or computer applications.
Essentially, building IoT allows a smart home to leverage instant wireless connectivity across a wide spectrum of devices, including lighting fixtures, thermostats, cameras, home security systems, washers and dryers, and many more home appliances and electronics.
One important impact that smart building IoT is having and will continue to have on the smart building industry is how accessible it makes these new types of technology. In the past, setting up a smart building and installing all the technology necessary to make it function cost a fortune, essentially restricting the technology only to wealthy individuals or larger companies. With the advent of IoT, though, wireless technology has opened up digital smart building technology to a wider market, which suggests that industry will grow rapidly once smart building construction and installation is embraced by the public.
Since most people already have smartphones and tablets at their disposal, users won’t have to invest in any new devices for controlling or monitoring their smart building, thus removing another obstacle to people embracing the new technology. This will drive energy efficiency and individual work efficiency to even higher levels. The Internet of Things in buildings will open up a whole new age of efficiency in both residential and commercial applications.
How do smart buildings drive efficiency?
Current studies are indicating that smart buildings, paired with efficient technologies such as LED lights and EnergyStar rated appliances, have the ability to even further cut the energy cost of running a commercial or residential building. Smart buildings also can have a considerable impact on employee comfort, which in turn leads to more productivity and a higher level of efficiency for the business that operates in that building.
Controlling microclimates and specific lighting environments will become much easier in smart buildings, allowing for the sort of customizability that will lead to a higher working efficiency for many employees.
On the energy side, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy also projects that updated federal efficiency standards for 34 product categories could be enforced by 2035. This projection estimates that the implementation of these new efficiency standards would lower electricity consumption by 7 percent, thus decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million metric tons.
Essentially, smart buildings drive efficiency by decreasing the amount of energy that light fixtures, electronics, and other devices in a space use on any given day. This can include cutting down on the time these devices need to run or by limiting their energy output to only what is necessary for any given time. For example: By sending and receiving data about the building, smart light fixtures can optimize the light that you need for each room in your smart building at that specific time of day. By optimizing their light output with installed sensors, lights can balance their artificial light with natural sunlight throughout the day, then brighten as needed when night comes.
Smart buildings will allow consumers to view real-time energy use, receive alerts, and manage all of their devices and lighting remotely. Smart technology also allows two-way communication between end-users and utility companies, granting users the ability to limit energy use whenever peak demand times raise the prices. At the same time, these smart technologies will allow more efficient management of new sources of electricity such as solar PV and other distributed and renewable energy sources.
If you have any questions about smart buildings and the Internet of Things, please reach out to our Shine Retrofits customer service team at your convenience. Our team of lighting experts would love to help you navigate the future of lighting technology and choose products that are perfect for your lighting project or retrofit. Give us a call at 1-877-914-2218 anytime Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm, Mountain Standard Time. We can’t wait to hear from you!