Buildings Re-Invented Part 1: Megatrends Driving Rapid Building Evolution

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Buildings are THE cornerstone of modern smart cities, and in the digital economy, a new breed of buildings is emerging. Advances in mobile, cloud-based and IoT technologies are creating enormous opportunities for information gathering, sharing, and analytics impacting the way buildings are run.  In parallel, occupants demand more and more control over their work space driven by a “there’s an app for that” mentality. Today, this technology is evolving and can help re-invent buildings and people’s experience living in them.

There are some key megatrends behind the changes impacting cities and buildings for the years to come. First, our planet is facing an historic transition with the greatest urban migration of all times. 2.5 billion people are expected to migrate to cities by 2050. At a global level, it is the equivalent of building 30 cities the size of Paris every year for the next 30 years!

This migration creates tensions for Buildings developers and owners, and for city planners. Specifically, it drives the need for more:

  • Energy efficiency and integration of renewable energies
  • Space efficiency and occupant and user comfort.
  • Talent attraction and retention
  • More stringent regulation


Schneider Electric charging stations at EUREF Campus in Germany, a smart district leveraging advanced grid technologies to achieve greater energy efficiency results.

Secondly, digitization is pervasive.  The growth of data, information and connected devices is exponential.  In 2014, there were an estimated 1.7 billion connected devices in buildings worldwide. That number will more than triple to reach 5.5 billion by 2020.

This digitization will boost market demand for:

  • Sensors, beacons and other devices to gather data
  • Technology that efficiently gives access to data: High speed network infrastructure (IP), OT systems that expose their data naturally, data repositories in the cloud
  • Artificial Intelligence and analytics to sort through data and drive insight and outcomes from this data
  • A multiplication of apps for everyone to solve actual paint points for building occupants, owners, facility managers

Finally, the world electricity consumption will increase by 60% in the next 20 years, and close to 60% of that electricity is used in buildings – and this is a conservative forecast!

At a time of climate change, this will drive increasing need for:

  • Self-generation and microgrids based on Solar with local storage
  • Source management to be able to manage various energy sources at a building or campus level
  • More local power management systems to ensure electrical power reliability
  • Also, a renewed push towards more energy efficiency

Overall, we see that these megatrends are creating a number of challenges for our cities. The stakes are high: will the 2.5 billion people migrating to cities by 2050 enjoy a connected, peaceful, modern lifestyle?

A big part of the answer is to design buildings in a new way so that they utilize less resources (space, energy) and they run at maximum efficiency. Buildings must also meet the growing demand for meaningful connectivity that responds to the individual needs of occupants.

That’s what we’re doing at Schneider Electric- designing buildings differently.  We are re-inventing buildings with open, innovative technology that allows for greater comfort and productivity for building occupants, enabling facility managers to deliver the next level of efficiency in buildings, and ensuring our systems integrators and EcoXpert partners win and grow through simplified commissioning and integrated systems.

In my next blog on Buildings Re-Invented, I will deep dive into translating building data into actionable insights.  Until then, visit our EcoStruxure Building website to learn more.

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  • Nitin Gaur

    6 years ago

    Interesting read. I have few questions!
    1. How easy or difficult it is going to ensure existing conventional operational practices are integrated with new IT technologies for buildings? Have you considered retrofit solutioning for existing buildings specially complex data centers, government buildings (difficult to renovate or migrate).
    2. With next level of digitisation and complex use cases , how worrying is the security concerns like lockdown of buildings for ransom or taking over critical controls like temperature etc.

    • Laurent Bataille

      6 years ago

      Hi Nitin. I’m happy you found my blog interesting. To answer your questions from our perspective, integration of OT and IT are a big topic in our industry. The complete integration will occur when OT migrates into an all IP architecture and becomes a natural extension to IT. Migration to an all IP architecture must be core to any building management system strategy. In the meantime a hybrid model exists where part of the OT network is integrated with IT supported by products and architectures that allow secure segregation of the two networks. With this a phased integration approach will be possible. With regard to building security scenarios, certainly security is a concern for any IoT application. The real question is, “how should we manage the security concerns and avoid any security risks?” The answer is with best practices, designing with security in mind, and adhering to industry standards and practices. As an example, independent audit of security architecture and product design should be an inherent part of any IoT system.

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