Smart BuildingIntelligence is ready to move in – the question is, when?
19. April 2021 | Author: Oscar Rechou Iglesias | Images: iStock, Sunrise
With proper planning and implementation, intelligently connected buildings can interact with inhabitants and users, building systems and their environment over their entire lifecycle. To make sure smart buildings are profitable for all stakeholders, digitalization must begin during the planning phase, with the «IoT-ready» design of buildings.
Buildings that know what to do next and where are no longer a pipedream. This not only covers their management, but already comes into play during the construction phase. Sensors in elevators, adaptive glass facades, solar-powered battery storage systems for electric vehicles, smart meters, connected household devices and central control modules for digital building technology: There is a trend towards smart buildings, not only in new constructions, but also with renovations. Such intelligent buildings interact with users, systems and their environment.
Smart buildings that are based on a clever digital design already conceptualized during the planning phase, are not only more efficient to build and manage, but also help cut costs and tap into new potential sources of revenue. Data from hundreds of sensors automate construction processes as well as facilitate scheduled maintenance work, the remedying of sudden malfunctions or even allow for personalized security systems. Inquiries are processed more quickly, and digitally managed services for inhabitants are activated in a matter of seconds. All this makes life more comfortable for all those involved.
No good prospects without a data storm
Thoroughly digitized applications enable greater efficiency, security and comfort for all stakeholders. This in turn makes properties more attractive in the long term – to the benefit of both building owners and tenants. But there’s a problem.
It’s hardly a secret that modern planning, construction and exploitation processes are highly fragmented. According to a recent study, the Swiss construction and real estate business is in a digital slumber, ranking a mere 4.1 on a 1–10 scale of digital maturity. Plenty of space to make some improvements by rethinking all phases of the building lifecycle.
Many puzzle pieces make a picture
Central databases for «glass buildings»
CAD (computer-aided design) applications allow architects to create 3D building models. These data can be integrated directly into BIM (building integration modeling) systems, which in turn function as central building databases. These databases are fed with additional data from all involved parties – such as information on the machines, materials or installed sensors and lines.
The plans can be accessed on mobile devices and adjusted continuously, to not only make processes more efficient but also ensure greater transparency and with that security of planning, as all parties have all information available to them in real time – like a real-life glass building. Downstream stakeholders, such as interior designers, facility management and providers of new services for inhabitants, benefit in turn from digitally continuous planning data. Taglines like «from BIM to FM» are finding an increasingly larger audience.
Giving machines and sensors a voice
Digital – the common denominator
If both factors – the «central database» and «IoT-ready» – are consistently implemented from the very start of constructing smart buildings, new applications can be integrated into the system at a later stage without great effort, i.e., expensive retrofitting. This way, the seemingly high initial costs of such buildings are justified, with costs placed in perspective over the entire lifecycle of the building.
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