What is a smart building?
Thursday, 10 October 2013
Smart buildings are much about energy saving. This is probably the main approach to the concept, but there are also other features that differentiate a ‘normal’ building from a smart one, such as security controls, the remote control of elevators and disaster prevention systems.
Energy saving is a fundamental issue because buildings consume more energy than transportation or industry sectors, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total U.S. energy use, according to the U.S. Departament of Energy. This means that just a little effort in saving energy in each one would derive in a huge amount of resources. Also, there is an enormous room for improvement, up to 30 or 40 percent, depending of the kind of building.
There are many ways to achieve this. In Telefónica’s main building in Santiago de Chile, for instance, we are developing a network of sensors that measure the consumption of air conditioning, central heating, light and energy in elevators to calculate the electrical performance of the building, and to be alerted when some device or system is wasting more than the usual amount of energy in order to take care of it. We estimate that the system is able to save up to 30% of energy.
There’s no point in having the air conditioning on if no one is in the room. This can be solved automatically without any human intervention thanks to M2M technology. It is capable of monitoring each room and detecting whenever someone is there to act accordingly.
Although many of the efforts to smarten buildings up is through ways to reduce energy consumption, there is a great variety of technologies that contribute to making a building more comfortable for anyone living or working there. Another pillar of a smart building lies in its safety. A network of connected fire sensors monitored from a smart platform is one example. Surveillance cameras and connected elevators and escalators that can be managed remotely are others features of a smart building.
Image: Neil Kremer