Building automation systems allow people to monitor power usage, hardware malfunctions, and even control when and how lights, air conditioners, and security systems operate over the course of a typical business day. Since 2000, a majority of commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings have been built with at least some kind of basic automation system installed. Within the past decade, use of Internet of Things / machine-to-machine technology in building automation systems has resulted in more affordable, flexible, and customizable automation for large buildings than ever before.
Buildings With IoT Brains
The first building automation systems were installed and programmed by companies that used proprietary software and equipment, making the systems difficult to customize. Also, many of these systems did not aggregate data from multiple sources. This meant that setting the lights to a building's occupancy schedule and controlling the HVAC system required two different interfaces.
Having all those building systems as separate data streams made it difficult to get a holistic view of how the various parts of building’s ecosystem affected each other. Newer building automation systems that incorporate IoT technology help people make intelligent decisions about all building operations from one convenient interface. Using IoT connectivity, these building automation systems can now collect data from HVAC, lighting, and security systems in a central source and analyze the data for more precise and effective applications. IoT building automation systems also use ubiquitous languages and data collection tools that make it easier for developers to program, customize, and fix these systems.
Advantages of IoT Building Automation Systems
One of the greatest strengths IoT brings to building automation systems is the ability to customize how users communicate with the system itself: who communicates with the system, where the data is sent, what parameters can be changed remotely, and even how certain building operations affect others.
One example of IoT building automation customization is the US General Services Administration’s recent smart HVAC control program. Temperature settings throughout the administration’s buildings were fine-tuned with an app that let workers vote on whether it was too hot or too cold in their area of the building. This system was able to collect user data, find trends, and provide customized temperature settings for different parts of the building. When heating or cooling was not requested from specific areas, the system would put that area’s HVAC into an energy-efficient mode.
Using IoT technology for building automation to gather temperature preferences isn’t only great for comfort, it helps save energy as well. Maintaining stable temperatures in specific areas of a large building throughout the day, instead of constantly heating and cooling those space, helps drive down electricity usage and waste.
Human error can also be accounted for with IoT building automation. Workers may have the best intentions, but after a long day of work, anyone can forget to turn off a light or leave the air conditioning set too low before a weekend closure. IoT-controlled systems can send alerts when certain criteria are met, and building systems may even be controlled remotely by system managers. These tools can account for lights left on or running HVAC systems.
IoT solutions make building automation more affordable and flexible than ever before. It fosters more comfortable workplaces that save energy and resource usage.