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Intelligent Buildings are Connected and Efficient

May 24, 2016

Intelligent Buildings are Connected and Efficient

Intelligent buildings were first mentioned in the early 1980s, but a globally acceptable definition of an intelligent building's attributes has not been established yet. Although various organizations have attempted to do this, there are numerous definitions, each with varying level of detail and a different emphasis on selected aspects of building intelligence. In spite of this, it is clear that an intelligent building is both connected and efficient.

All connected buildings have a communications infrastructure that is integrated and supports wireless and wired applications and networks. It also enables person-to-machine, person-to-person and machine-to-machine communications, both inside the building and with the outside world. These communications use state of the art flexible, intelligent, wireless and wired platforms. This equipment can include our intelligent building cell phone signal boosters. Platforms typically support WiFi, wired LAN, audio/visual, sensors, in-building wireless, building management and lighting applications. Buildings are often connected to the cloud as an important part of smart cities and smart grids.

Efficient buildings leverage state-of-the-art connectivity platforms to manage key corporate real estate, IT and facilities challenges to improve occupant satisfaction, space utilization and energy efficiency. Intelligent connectivity platforms in efficient buildings can be adapted to easily change communication technologies and in-space design. A sensor network with high density is linked to other building systems to deliver fine-grained occupancy-based control of the building's systems. This allows for optimal occupant comfort and energy usage while a historical and real-time view of occupancy patterns is provided.

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Previous Definitions of an Intelligent Building.

One of the first definitions was devised by the Intelligent Buildings Institute, which stated that an intelligent building was a building which provides a cost-effective and productive environment through the optimization of the following basic elements – structure, systems, management and services, and the interrelationship between them. This statement defined an intelligent building as one with optimal matches of its four elements to the needs of the users, with specific emphasis on the technology that allows for the interrelationship between the elements.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, as Intelligent Buildings became more popular around the world, we started seeing competing definitions for an "Intelligent Building". The European Intelligent Buildings Group tilted their definition towards the technology needs of occupants, and stated that an intelligent building promotes an environment that not only maximizes the effectiveness of occupants in the building, it also promotes efficient management of resources, with minimum lifetime costs of facilities and hardware. Asian definitions of an Intelligent Building revolved around technology's role in automation and the control of building functions.

Then, by the late 1990s and early 2000s, following the introduction of the BREEAM code in 1990 and the LEED program in the year 2000, the Intelligent Building definition leaned towards energy efficiency and sustainability.

With the merging of intelligence and sustainability in the late 2000's, the Continental Automated Buildings Association commissioned a Frost and Sullivan research paper, which used the phrase "Bright Green Buildings" to describe buildings that are both green and intelligent.

Recent Definitions, including BloT.

We then noticed that definitions began considering Internet of Things Technologies, their applications, and how they impacted on intelligent buildings. Memoori recently produced a research report which highlighted the introduction of BloT, (Building Internet of Things), which they defined as "The overlaying of an IP network, connecting all the monitoring of building services, and analyzing and controlling the building without human intervention."

According to Memoori, within five years the traditional BAS (Building Automation Systems) will be replaced by BloT. They believe that BloT applications and technologies will deliver improved efficiencies in every aspect of building intelligence.

Building Intelligence Today.

Today, we're seeing huge changes in the way buildings are being designed, used, and operated. IT departments, facilities, and corporate real estate can only benefit when building intelligence is used to meet energy efficiency, space optimization, and connectivity challenges; Especially when workplace demographics have occupant's expecting improved comfort, modern and open design, and unrivalled connectivity.

Therefore, it is becoming very clear that a connected and efficient building is an Intelligent Building, even though there are varying perspectives on the subject.

About a Connected Building.

A Connected Building features a cohesive communications infrastructure, one that supports both wireless and wired networks and their applications. In addition, a connected building enables machine-to-machine, person-to-machine, and person-to-person communications within the building, as well as having a state-of-the-art, flexible, intelligent, wireless and wired platform for communications with the outside world. Building and lighting management applications, wired LAN, sensors, audio/visual, and Wi-Fi are supported by the platform. Today we also recognize that an important part of smart grids and smart cities is that modern buildings must become cloud connected.

About an Efficient Building.

An Efficient Building is able to improve occupant satisfaction, space utilization, and energy efficiency by leveraging an advanced and high-tech connectivity policy that effectively addresses key IT challenges, facilities, and corporate real estate. The intelligent connectivity policy can be easily adapted to communication technologies or changes in space design in an efficient building. By integrating a high-density sensor network with other building systems, an efficient building (whilst providing both historical and real-time assessments of occupancy patterns) can effectively provide occupancy-based control of building systems for optimal occupant comfort and energy use.

This is a time when both the design and utilization blueprints of common and individual spaces of buildings are undergoing major changes, so we can expect a continuing increase in efficiency expectations. This is driven by an increase in sensors and BloT applications and connected devices. As we continue to see the evolution of the definition of an Intelligent Building, so too will we continue seeing buildings becoming increasingly efficient and connected.

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  • Intelligent buildings are finally here! Technology has improved so much that it truly is possible to set up a home, office, or building that allows you to do things with voice commands and/or remotely. I know the process isn’t perfect and there still kinks being fixed, but it’s nothing short of magnificent for someone who grew up during the days of rotary phones and 3 TV stations.

    Carter Hansen on
  • I read a lot about “smart homes” and “smart buildings” in the 1990s but was skeptical when they would materialize. I think the abundance of reliable Wi-Fi systems has made them possible, especially when you have booster systems to make sure the signals can get through every portion of your structure. The technology is so helpful. It hasn’t been perfected yet, but it’s finally here.

    Naomi Howarth on
  • Nice primer on the history of intelligent buildings. I didn’t know such a thing existed until I came across this. The concept of intelligent buildings sounds logical considering how much of our other technology has “smartened up.” You figure there are smart houses so why not smart buildings. The objectives of smart buildings seem to add on the added layer of optimizing space and resources. The intelligent building structure sounds like it is in for another advance with the Building Internet of Things concept. It’s not hard to understand why a corporation would hire a intelligent buildings consultant to guarantee everything is up to date and there is room for intelligent building structure modifications.

    Casey Lord Jr. on
  • I admit I’m a science fiction nerd, having grown up watching Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and friends as a kid. I never thought we’d see such a jump in technology. I’m not talking about cell phones (aka communicators), but the abundance of smart technology, and now smart buildings. I can easily envision going into a building and having access to directions beamed into my phone or headset. About a decade I thought it was neat going into cafes with wireless, but smart buildings are something even better. The only problem is you need a powerful wireless signal, and some buildings are lacking. I know there is technology like cell phone boosters and DAS installations to power up wireless signals, but I don’t understand why more buildings don’t employ them. If you’re going to offer wireless and/or promote your facility as a “smart building,” don’t you want the equipment to strengthen your wireless signal?

    David Hooker on
  • LAN’s? I didn’t know they were still around. I figured they were replaced by something new. When it comes to intelligent buildings, are DAS designs a factor in getting the cell phone signals beefed up? Also are the sensors mentioned in the blog a new feature in DAS installation, or is it something different?

    Sean Campbell on

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