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Article Date: 19th March 2019

Schneider Electric - The Smart Buildings ‘Gene’

Smart Buildings - Building Automation - Renewable Energy - Carbon Emissions

Schneider Electric - The Smart Buildings ‘Gene’

Smart Buildings are hardly a new concept. Buildings have been getting ‘smarter’ since the advent of Building Automation solutions a few decades ago. Yet increasingly, the ultimate definition of a ‘Smart Building’ exceeds automated operation and heads more towards intuitive operation.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people spend over 90% of their time inside buildings. As a result, they are expected to promote the same benefits as the outdoors, whilst simultaneously utilising technology to enable productivity and comfort. This needs to be adapted to overcome the high expectations of the millennial generation, who are set to become the future leaders of industries across the country.

Therefore, there are many examples of what truly makes a smart building and the ‘genes’ that allow them to flourish. Extensive knowledge of what makes a building truly smart will help accommodate the needs of future generations.

Renewable energy: Net Zero Energy to Zero Carbon
On an annual basis, a Net Zero Energy building generates as much energy as it consumes. Despite this, this particular type of building may still have a tendency to emit carbon depending on the type of on-site generation. This is because only limited buildings having the potential for renewable energy.

In recent years, major governments and institutions have been trying to reduce potential threats to the environment. Most notably, the EU has set a Carbon Emissions reductions target of 40% by 2020. This means that buildings need to move towards a Zero Carbon mode of operation, where there are no fossil fuels burned on site. The rising demands on clean electricity grids has allowed for generation and load shedding to become optimised by using demand-response programs.

A building’s purpose
Every building has its own purpose. For example, a hospital environment must improve patient recovery, compared to an office environment which may have to improve productivity. Despite each purpose being unique, the goal of a Smart Building is to help the wellbeing of its occupants. Studies by the World Green Building Council suggest that there is 35% less sick leave in well-ventilated buildings. This signifies that Smart Buildings need to understand and adapt to environments. This can depend on its occupancy, its ongoing activities within the building which may impact air quality and finally the environment outside the building.

The Smart Building Incentive
By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. They have a completely different attitude towards working and exhibit a dislike towards what may be seen as the norm. Modern work ethics such as flexible working, technological aids, rapid personal and professional development, alongside a good work-life balance have become more prominent amongst this generation. This implies that the key to an organisation’s success should be to invest in its culture. By establishing Smart Buildings that consist of an Innovative and Digital Environment, organisations will have the ability of attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry.

The goal of efficiency
The aim of a building being as efficient as possible is still key, with various operators looking for an integrated approach to Building Management. Smart Buildings are supposed to be environments where the BMS, Lighting, Power, and Occupancy pieces can simultaneously share data to improve operations, whilst also allowing the visualisation of agglomerated data on a platform which is accessible on premise or on cloud.

Collaboration: The key to a Smart Buildings future
In this day and age, buildings are meant to go beyond what is expected. They now need to interact with people, whilst also allowing occupants to control their environment. Smart Buildings are of course evolving and now include a wide range of technologies such as artificial intelligence devices; from apps on your mobile device which can help you choose and find your way to the ideal workspace in your office; to Virtual and Augmented Reality. The current vision of today is important. It consists of a fluid environment, where every facet of the Smart building is part of its inherent DNA.

What then is the Smart Building ‘gene’? It is essentially the ability of leveraging data and the Internet of Things to collect cross-system information whilst also coming up with actionable insights.

In the next part of this series, there will be a deeper dive into how new and slightly older buildings can adopt a Smart Buildings future.

By Ram Venkat, Smart Buildings Marketing Manager

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