Heralding the Age of Intelligent Buildings

By Andre Gwilliam

Let's assess the impact of the Internet of Things on building-management systems.

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While you may be familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT), the sheer size of this growth market may be hard to believe. In fact, revenues for the world’s IoT vendors are expected to top $470 billion by 2020, as the technology that underpins this market continues to evolve.

One of the most interesting elements of the IoT is its impact on the environment across the globe. Particularly exciting is its influence on building-management systems (BMS).

In fact, IoT technology has the ability to create intelligent buildings that minimize their own carbon emissions, so long as the necessary equipment is installed correctly. Here’s a look at the impact of the IoT on BMS in the modern age:

What Are Intelligent Buildings?
By their very nature, buildings are functional spaces that are required to meet multiple needs simultaneously. In order to do so, they have a large number of systems which manage the daily operation of a facility, turning bricks and mortar into functional living or working spaces.

These systems need to be managed, and historically they have been treated as individual entities that operate separately to one another. They all have individual licensing terms and system providers, for example, whether you consider lighting circuits and heating systems or building security. Make no mistake—this can be an expensive and time-consuming pastime, with businesses often requiring different individuals to assume responsibility for the management of each system.

This is where the IoT comes in. The Internet of Things can bring these disparate systems together within a single platform, creating intelligent and intuitive spaces that operate seamlessly and with maximum efficiency at all times.

How Is the IoT Installed in These Spaces?
Essentially, the IoT can be leveraged to create holistic structures, which use connected sensors and controls that can be accessed from a single dashboard. This advanced technology has the capacity to understand how individual spaces are being used—which, in turn, enables it to offer a unique insight into the optimal levels of lighting, energy usage and monitoring required at any given time. It leverages both physical objects and sensors to achieve this, by creating an interconnected network that both collates and shares data between each system linked to the dashboard.

The Utilitywise WiseLife app is an excellent example of how the technology can be applied to great effect. It provides business owners with the ability to manage their electricity and gas use from their smartphones. In short, WiseLife provides entrepreneurs with direct control of their electrical and heating hardware, along with access to sensors that can be used to adjust temperatures.

So, not only can equipment can be switched on or off remotely, but the technology also makes recommendations about when electricity and gas use can be reduced within any given space. As a result, the amount of energy being used is decreased, reducing bills and benefiting both the environment and each businesses bottom line.

According to WiseLife, one user reported a 50 percent drop in their gas usage over time, as well as a further 25 percent decrease in their electricity bill after installing Wiselife. This is part of a wider trend to create intuitive and increasingly automated building-management systems, which can increase operational efficiency. Businesses are set to increase their investment in this technology throughout the next decade, having spent around $67.1 billion last year alone. This is expected to rise to $102 billion in 2025, with a clear focus being placed on energy usage, lighting and security provisions.

Of course, the potential applications for this market continue to expand daily, so the level of investment could increase further in the future. For now, however, there’s sure to be a focus on upgrading facilities and implementing automated processes in a way that improves safety and energy efficiency, while also adding tangible value to the structures themselves. This is already something that we have seen take hold in the residential market, with buyers keen on investing in property that already benefits from integrated smart technology and IoT capabilities.

Andre Gwilliam is a freelance writer working toward a future aim of running his own writers company. He writes across a variety of subjects that are close to the heart of the U.K. economy, including property, investments, business logistics and market trends. He has been writing for the past three years, having graduated with a degree in English literature and creative writing. Andre is open to collaborations to benefit his growing portfolio.