Half of building owners currently use smart building technologies, and another 33 percent plan to implement such toolsin the next six months, according to a recent IDC Energy Insights study. Furthermore, organizations are increasing their spending on such solutions as they look to meet sustainability goals. As building owners continue to look for new efficiencies, they may want to consider how their infrastructure design can work to enable future innovations.
Even with the relatively high current rates of adoption, smart building technology is seeing steady growth. IDC found that 57 percent of respondents had corporate sustainability goals they were trying to reach, and 86 percent of this group are using efficiency or energy management as a metric for success in reaching these goals. In line with this trend, respondents reported an average spending increase of 18 percent since 2011 in HVAC controls, lighting controls and analytics/data management, which constitute the top three smart building solution categories.
Designing for optimal results
As organizations implement and begin to look at upgrading their networked building automation systems, there are several important factors to consider to ensure smooth operation and system longevity, according to engineers interviewed by Consulting-Specifying Engineer. Integration with existing systems is an important factor, several noted.
“When it comes to building controls, we want to provide a system that is robust and easy to integrate,” said Kevin Lewis, vice president of Henderson Engineers. “After the contractor has installed the system and has left the job, we want to make sure the end user is trained in, and understands how to modify the designed system. Due to reduced maintenance staff and increased energy efficiency standards, automating as many controls as possible seems to be in the best interest of the end user.”
In addition to designing systems to work with existing network technology, however, building owners also need to have an architecture that is prepared for next-generation needs, said Bruce McKinlay, principal at design firm Arup. He noted that one common problem is “that these systems are not properly commissioned and don’t have the flexibility for expansion for future needs of the venue, ensuring efficient use and predicting the future needs and flexibility.”
To ensure a smart building automation system is designed to help meet efficiency goals now and in the future, organizations may want to work with an IT consulting services firm such as FlexITy to design a next-generation networking solution. By leveraging the expertise of an external provider, building owners can guarantee their properties are equipped to handle emerging innovations in system control and unified networking.