Our built environment is getting smarter; it is increasingly capable of adapting to the needs of its occupants while also better managing its energy use and day-to-day operations. Using the advanced connectivity provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) it is possible to design structures that anticipate the needs of their users: cognitive buildings.
Automation had already helped free up facility managers from many menial, routine tasks but it wasn’t smart – it was a routinised process. Cognitive buildings aim to take technology beyond automation by using a more integrated approach that monitors events and feeds back real-time actionable insights. These can be used to help reduce energy consumption, optimise space usage, improve security and enhance safety.
One of the biggest challenges facing facility managers is ensuring that energy systems are efficiently operated, reducing their carbon footprint and saving on costs. This includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, which all need to be closely monitored. A recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has revealed that a smart building can realise up to 30–50% savings compared with conventional buildings that are deemed energy inefficient.
Space optimisation is also key as it helps companies use their offices more effectively. Technology that can monitor and track footfall can help facility managers identify where changes might be desirable. This can extend to the use of car parking spaces, depending on sensor installations.
And things are set to get smarter, faster. The implementation of AI is already adding sophisticated fault detection and preventative maintenance thanks to the use of next generation data analytics. It is also helping improve tenant comfort by integrating mobile apps and wearables that help occupants directly control the ambient temperature and lighting levels, for example.
The personal touch
Personalisation is an important piece of the smart building puzzle. Digital services and app-based interactions will help structures individualise the user experience by means of learning-based data analysis and voice-controlled smart devices. This type of interface is eventually expected to support the development of Cognitive Districts and Cognitive Cities, which in turn should help deliver a range of insights to improve long-term sustainability and safety management.
The role of the facility manager will continue to be shaped by technological developments, which are already enabling cognitive buildings to adapt to the needs of their occupants. And with so much data to be captured and analysed, it will be essential for businesses to partner with technology specialists that can help them implement and maintain the most appropriate smart building solutions, now and in the future.
Learn how Honeywell Building Solutions can help your buildings become smarter: https://buildingsolutions.honeywell.com/en-US/solutions/ConnectedServices/Pages/default.aspx