The Internet of (Every) Thing Pumps Up Building Energy Management Systems

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My last post in this series on the emergence of building energy management systems (BEMS) looked at the digital hub – arguably the most essential component in a smarter building. Such buildings make it possible to have better and more seamless automatic adjustment of temperature, ventilation and lighting, which studies show leads to occupants that are 27% happier while providing building owners with as much as a 25% reduction in operating costs.

This isn’t surprising. A BEMS, as the Navigant Research Leaderboard Report “Building Energy Management Systems” states, is “the keystone technology for the intelligent building. This category of software is the vehicle that can translate the increasing array of facility data into actionable information”.

The actionable data is growing rapidly due to the arrival of the IoT – the Internet of Things or, as some call it, the Internet of Everything. Whatever it’s called, this means that machines are talking to each other. Consider this: if everyone on Earth were connected the Internet population would total about 7.3 billion.

But, the number of installed devices in the IoT is already twice that figure and is projected to top 75 billion – 10 times the Earth’s inhabitants – within 10 years. Some of those devices will be sensors that provide information on temperature, CO2 levels, or other bits of data that can be used for building management through the right combination of analytics and control.

That information makes it possible to realize significant energy efficiency improvements. For instance, Schneider Electric’s headquarters in Paris has seen a fourfold reduction in energy consumption, thanks to a combination of a BEMS with monitoring and control algorithms. These improvements depend upon the input from over 3000 sensors that drive efficiency improvements from the device level to the service level.

The IoT includes environmental and occupancy sensors as well as other sensors that monitor power consumption. Data captured from these forms the basis for energy savings. For instance, efficiency can be improved by reducing the number of air exchanges per hour when a room is unoccupied, as verified via CO2, temperature, humidity and other sensors. Consequently, air exchanges can be adjusted even if the occupant load varies greatly.

The trend toward more data was on the rise before the IoT began to show up a few years back. However, now the advent of so many connected devices has really accelerated the acquisition of more and more data. With the Internet of Things tripling over the next five years, look for the data to grow at about the same rate.

BEMS technology, of course, must be prepared for this. For an example of how this can be done, check out SmartStruxure for large and critical buildings as well as our SmartStruxure Lite for small and medium buildings.

The subject of my next post in this series will be improvements in connectivity and efficiency.

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