Smart buildings

 

Smart buildings help you harness automation to increase efficiency, health, and productivity

 

How do you use data to make your buildings operate more efficiently and drive occupant comfort, safety, and productivity? Historically, our industry focused mostly on energy efficiency. However, technology is driving a disruption in how buildings operate, providing more holistic benefits. Smart buildings use automation, oftentimes through building controls, to make a building grid flexible, healthy, productive, and energy efficient.

Building systems that did not have any automation or intelligence in the past—like lighting, building security, space utilization, and maintenance—now do. This digital transformation is changing the way we use data to manage and operate buildings. Smart building systems include sensors to gather data and cloud-based platforms to analyze that data. They then provide sophisticated feedback to operators, occupants, owners, and other stakeholders to improve the value of the building. Building owners can leverage this date to create a smarter, sustainable, and safer building environment.

The need for smart buildings’ non-energy benefits is a significant part of this transformation. Smart buildings know where occupants are located and can track healthcare equipment location in hospitals. Sensors can notify you when systems need attention. They can record carbon dioxide and particulates in the air and alert operators to undesirable levels. They can even help owners understand and maintain social distancing.

Buildings are getting smarter. It’s important to understand how you can use these systems and data to inform your decisions. We aim to provide research on these systems so you can do just that.

Our research in this space includes:

commercial building
Slipstream’s field study found that programs that add retro-commissioning (RCx) can recapture energy savings that are lost as buildings age. Our report outlines triggers to identify the most promising targets for RCx and the important role training can play. More
smart valve
Will smart valves help solve your building’s HVAC energy efficiency problem? Roughly 25% of Midwest commercial buildings use either chilled or hot water for HVAC distribution. New code compliant hydronic systems are required to have both variable flow control and temperature control to prevent energy waste. In existing buildings, owners prefer to address this issue with a variable flow retrofit. More
office meeting room
Does smart lighting deliver on its promises? We test lighting and controls performance to find out. Occupancy sensors. Daylight harvesting. Simple, automated commissioning. AND significant energy savings. Smart lighting developers promise they can do it all—but how do these technologies deliver when installed in real buildings? More
Do luminaire level lighting controls live up to their promise?
Occupancy sensors. Daylight harvesting. Simple, automated commissioning. AND significant energy savings. Smart lighting developers promise they can do it all—but how do these technologies deliver when installed in real buildings? More
building automation
Deep energy savings. Lower installation and commissioning costs. All commercial building types. It’s time to move beyond lighting replacements. More
daylight controls
Proper commissioning can lead to energy savings—often 60% or more Daylighting control, or daylight harvesting, has become a common energy savings strategy in many sustainable building projects, but several barriers still prevent successful implementation of this strategy in mainstream construction. Considerable effort is expended in the architectural and lighting design of daylighting controls, with actual execution being an afterthought. More
Building systems integration
A couple of years ago, my team conducted a research project investigating how to reduce the energy use of office plug loads. Among the solutions we tested, one option was a power strip with an occupancy sensor. It shut off your monitors and other gadgets when you were away from your desk. Many buildings we investigated also had occupancy sensors controlling the lighting in the same office space. One of the offices we tested had yet a third occupancy sensor network – and CO2 sensors to control the HVAC system in some spaces. More
Publication
Demand control ventilation (DCV) systems use sensors—generally either CO2 or occupancy sensors—to estimate the actual number of people in an area and supply only as much ventilation air as is needed at a given time. DCV has the potential to save a substantial portion of building energy use in extreme climates like Minnesota and other areas of the northern U.S. More