The demand for energy efficiency, facility management, tenant experiences, and service innovation is growing fast. Hence, a smart automation system is becoming a solid technology foundation for next-generation buildings.

Real estate significantly contributes to carbon dioxide emissions, as occupied buildings account for over 40% of the global energy consumption. Across the world, many buildings have been upgrading and expanding technological innovations that can boost operational performance and sustainable practice. To this end, smart building automation systems (BAS) combining with IoT technologies can enhance buildings’ healthy environmental, social and economic systems. 

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A recent article by Gartner also stated that building automation has the largest growth rate in the IoT market in 2020 (42%). This shows the fact that there’s a huge need in digitally transforming the outdated building management systems (BMS). And IoT is obviously the most viable solution to cost saving and optimization for modernized smart building.

Since 2015, the number of smart building connected devices has seen rapid growth. The CRE market is projected to have the fastest and largest growth in connected devices between 2016 and 2021, surpassing even smart homes, according to the Smart Building Research firm Memoori.

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It’s evident that the need for IoT technologies in building management is growing quickly. This trend will greatly affect businesses in commercial real estate, building management, construction, manufacturing & industrial automation.

How IoT technologies are applied in Smart Building Automation?

Basic functions of a smart BAS include monitoring and controlling the environment of building facilities on a single platform. Hence, it ensures operational performance and occupants’ safety and comfort. What makes it more advanced and special is the seamless integration of configurable controls with data-driven equipment. 

As building management and the Internet of things (IoT) converge in the 2000s, smart building automation systems (BAS) appear as a solution to optimization.

Depending on the types of IoT sensors used in facilities management, prevalent use cases for smart BAS includes:

  • Climate control, including temperature, humidity, vibration, etc.
  • CO monitoring
  • Electrical usage
  • Fire detection
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Lighting control
  • Occupancy
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Security and access control
  • Structural health
  • Water monitoring
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Image Source: Intel

How does IoT work in Smart Building Automation?

There are two essential components undergirding the new smart system to surpass the conventional BAS.

The first one is IoT-powered meters that facilitate building supervision. They can connect thousands of sensors to measure utility uses such as electrical power, natural gas, water in real-time. With that said, building supervisors could monitor the overall operations of the building via one dashboard.

Secondly, it is the advanced analytics system that analyzes data collected across meters and sensors. The outcomes would provide actionable insights on predictive maintenance and prevention from unexpected downtime. Through this integration, building managers can extract valuable information to adjust operations accordingly and achieve a high return on investment.

The flowchart below explains how data is streamlined from IoT endpoint sensors into the platform hub. The IoT platform hub will store, process, and analyze the data and streamline insights into enterprise management applications. This is the same model that GEM Corporation has built for one of its clients in the UK.

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Benefits of IoT-powered smart Smart Building Automation

Deliver real-time visibility and insights into building operations

In modern BAS deployment, advanced energy analytics and reporting can deliver visibility and insights into building operations in real-time. The old-school automation systems are incapable of this.

With the aid of IoT-enabled devices and sensors attached to individual zones, the system allows managers to dive into energy consumption patterns, heat-loads by zone, occupancy metrics and more, to detect pressures on the power grid for prompt adjustment within the systems. Additionally, it can notify managers with predictive analytics when equipment maintenance and servicing are needed.

With such advanced features, the building operation can achieve new operational efficiencies and enormous savings. According to Deloitte analysts, smart BAS could help organizations reduce 30-50% energy usage or more in existing buildings. Larsen and Toubro Infotech, one of the largest IT companies in India, has saved over 55% on power thanks to this system.

Improve occupants health and productivity

Apart from mitigating the facility management, the smart BAS can improve occupants’ health and productivity. By constantly monitoring different variables, IoT-powered BAS proactively maintains thermal, air quality, and lighting levels at healthy levels. With better indoor temperature, air quality, and lighting systems, occupants are more comfortable and more beneficial.

Moreover, the smart sensors installed in each zone enable management teams to offer customized experiences to their end-users. For example, occupants can adjust the temperature in their area via mobile applications without compromising comfort elsewhere. They can also provide feedback and ratings about the working conditions to the building managers. Building managers would enjoy a high occupancy rate and large return on investment by facilitating a comfortable, healthy, and technology-enabled work environment.

Hassle-free modernization

Last but not least, it is hassle-free for building owners to modernize old systems into IoT-powered BAS without incurring outrageous costs. Battery-operated IoT sensors are inexpensive and easily adapted for the current automation systems of the building. With robust, scalable, and low-power IoT connectivity, we can integrate sensors across the facility to capture comprehensive insights into diverse building functions and distributed assets. The existing sensors can easily be relocated or installed along the line as new business requirements and renovation needs arise.

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Source: BerhTech

A smart building automation approach has proved that it could be more than just an energy saver. With the development of new technologies such as 5G, or AI, the smart building automation system will shape the future of building operations.

Lowering the cost of building management system

The cost of a traditional building management system range from $2.5 to $7 per square foot, that’s equivalent to $250,000 to $700,000 for a 100,000-square-foot building. ROI becomes a challenge for most buildings, and it would take at least four years to cover the cost of a traditional BMS. And a low ROI would limit the willingness of owners to invest in deploying BMS.

Meanwhile, IoT-based controls and monitoring of a building can cost from just $5,000 to $50,000. An IoT-based approach using wireless sensors can reduce the deployment cost by 30% compared to a traditional BMS.

Decreasing expenses and increasing property values

According to 75F, installing IoT-based BMS will help reducing expenses in:

  • Energy consumption: A smart BMS can save 30-50% of HVAC energy consumption, reduce LED and other lighting energy
  • Maintenance & repairs: Reduction in operating expenses across building system, including HVAC and lighting maintenance; extending equipment life
  • HVAC Equipment Acquisition and Installation: Higher efficiency means fewer or downsized equipment, even eliminating traditional fixtures; faster installation of wireless system, eliminate temperature controls specialist and custom programming
  • Onsite IT Equipment: No need to invest in workstations and software updates, cloud based software enhancement pushed wirelessly.
  • Remote management: Building managers can monitor through web and mobile without site visits, reducing travel expenses and team disruption.

At the same time, IoT-based systems will also increase the asset value of:

  • Lease Value PSF: BMS can lift property value by at least $.10/sf, as much as 11.8% to the top line
  • Tenant Attraction & Retention: Smart systems are becoming a unique proposition to attract interest from prospective tenants and maintain existing clients.
  • Data & Insights Across Properties: Landlords can give management remote insights, save energy, improve workplace IAQ and comfort.
  • Sustainability: Green buildings receive more attention and have higher market value, contributing to the bottom line for profit, people and the planet.

Eventually, investing in IoT-based systems will bring a faster payback for investors.


Why choosing GEM Corporation as your partner for Smart Building Automation Solution?

1. GEM Corporation is an IT Outsourcing company experienced with developing smart building automation systems. We have worked on developing this solution for a top engineering construction corporation in the UK. Our solution maximizes efficient use of resources including space, energy, and facility management; as well as providing intelligent data for building operators to take action.

2. Our domain expertise includes building Internet of Things solutions for industrial companies.

3. We have more than 7 years of experience. Our offices are based in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Tokyo, Japan.

4. We have successfully built more than 100 successful projects for our clients in the US, UK, Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and many more.

5. Let us know how we can help you build a solution. Contact us now and get a quote for your project. 

This article was originally posted on 4 June 2021, and updated on 13 Oct 2021 for more indepth and relevance.