Editor’s Note: Intelligent Buildings Rise Up

Sept. 19, 2015

What may have once been considered “hippie” concerns about energy efficiency have moved into a “hipper,” high-tech space. Smart Buildings—their fairly short history is also a learning curve, with development ongoing. Every step forward brings new insights that then open the field to more technicians endeavoring to meet the challenge of providing solutions.

Commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings shelter not only people, but also house all the workings of the economy. They need to allow occupants to be productive. This requires illumination, thermal comfort, the powering of equipment that may be quite varied, and ensuring security. But companies are also concerned with the bottom line, with the environment, with grid reliability, and with regulations.

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While new construction may be smart by design, not all smart buildings need to be sleek and modern. What they need to do is gather intelligence, act on the intelligence, and integrate systems in such a way as to optimize functioning and minimize cost.

They can be made able to support the electric grid. They must be tailored to the specialized needs of users and building owners.

As I mentioned, intelligent buildings are an evolving domain. Nobody can say they have the definitive word on them, and that is exciting, but it can also be frustrating. There is room for many companies and engineers to refine smart building operation, and there is a need to keep information channels open.

Conversely, there is often a need to keep security tight. These are not our fathers’ and mothers’ office buildings, campuses, and factories.

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The following pages will give you more information on smart buildings, and Forester University, our online professional education division, has a number of related webcasts available. I recommend “Building Energy Management and the Enterprise Internet of Things” sponsored by Daintree, “Harvesting the Benefits of Combined Heat and Power (CHP)” sponsored by Lectrus, “Deploying Solar and Storage Microgrids,” and a fresh offering from Mitsubishi: “Whole Building Control, From Concept to Reality.”

Be informed, be smart, and be hip—your building, those in it, and those providing power to it will thank you.