Smart building researcher Memoori has projected the Internet of Things (IoT) market for commercial buildings to grow 25 percent annually from $22.93 billion in 2014 to more than $85 billion in 2020. IoT and cloud-based data analytics have significantly influenced the fields of smart buildings, building analytics and cloud-based building automation. According to Gartner, the number of IoT devices in commercial buildings is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the next few years, reaching over 1 billion in 2018, which in turn will drive more data-driven applications for buildings. This is good news for buildings that are capable of taking advantage of these new technologies. However, the vast majority of today’s building stock lacks the infrastructure to adapt to a fully connected and automated system and therefore requires a different solution.
Creating an Adaptive and All-Inclusive Solution
With every building, there are variables. Whether it’s the building management system (BMS) inside the building, the materials used in its construction, how it’s used (e.g., multi-tenant office or owner/occupied) or aspects such as geography, operating budgets, or state regulations, there are a number of elements to consider with every energy efficiency and operational improvement project. However, many of today’s building IoT solutions offer a one-size-fits-all approach, without taking into account the unique variables that could benefit or potentially hinder the value they deliver to the building owners/operators. Many of the advanced solutions rely solely on a mix of big data and cloud analytics, and generate information that isn’t necessarily actionable.
These are some of the areas we’ve addressed with our new 5i platform, launched just a few weeks ago. 5i is designed to deliver value to any building or portfolio of buildings at all stages of their lifecycle. Established on the five pillars of data capture analysis, advanced modeling, measurement & verification, closed loop predictive control, and expert human analysis, the
platform provides a more comprehensive solution to building IoT than alternative approaches. The combination of these five pillars provides the foundation for offerings that address operational efficiency, tenant comfort, and energy savings.
The 5i platform can capture building data from multiple BMS systems, sensor data, meter data through approaches ranging from physical meters to cloud data aggregators, weather data, and utility demand signals and tariff data. The deep modeling capabilities allow for creation of predictive models that can predict power consumption based on internal and external variables. These predictive models capture the thermal properties of a building, seasonal changes, operational variations, and occupancy patterns while incorporating automated discovery and machine learning. Models are used for rigorous IPMVP-compliant measurement and verification and also to perform automated, closed-loop, real-time optimization of heating and cooling systems in a building. On top of all these elements of the platform, we have realized that enabling human expertise (data scientists, building engineers, operations staff) is critical to deliver the full value of the platform to the customer.
Offered as a suite of services, the 5i platform provides a full range of building management services from simple workflow solutions (see Facility Worksite) to fully automated, intelligent predictive control with our Predictive Energy OptimizationTM. The modular format of the services that are powered by the platform allows building owners and operators to deploy the platform once, select the services that best meet the needs of their specific buildings, and have flexible service options for the future.
Looking Behind the Data
While the technology pillars (data capture analysis, advanced modeling, measurement & forecasting, closed loop predictive control) form the essential underpinnings of the platform, it is the fifth pillar of human expertise that represents BuildingIQ’s unique take on building IoT. In an industry increasingly looking to automation and the marginalization of facility teams, the value of human insight is often overlooked. This is why we provide 24/7 access to BuildingIQ’s expert team of operators, building engineers, and data scientists to interpret the data obtained and deliver maximum results. This use of human insight at all levels of our building management offerings is a fundamental differentiator from other IoT solutions, which rely solely on raw data and, therefore, fail to see the full picture.
What many alternative approaches fail to account for are nuances within buildings —the building’s “personality”. Those working day in and day out onsite understand the interplay between the building and its occupants in a way that standard building automation solutions never will. Only the facilities teams know about the CEO that will simply never be happy with how stuffy their area feels, zones that overheat at the slightest change in cloud cover, and temperamental HVAC equipment. These are the people that know the subtle changes better than anyone and empowering them is the key to uncovering the story behind the data, whether it’s an under-performing air handler or the energy-intensive habits of long-time tenants. The experts at BuildingIQ’s network operations center work as an extension of the onsite team to perform the first line of data analysis and develop the insights using the platform. Working together, BuildingIQ’s team and onsite facility team identify root causes of under-performing BMS or comfort issues with tenants to accomplish specific operational improvements.
The Next Phase in Building IoT
As the needs of building owners grow in number and complexity, the 5i platform will grow and evolve as well. Already we are beginning to incorporate local generation, storage, water, and gas into the data streams we ingest and analyze. We are building improved models and user engagement techniques to account for comfort. We will evolve our managed services offerings to help customers take advantage of these new technologies. And we will continue to deliver efficiency, energy savings, and comfort benefits to the building industry by being thoughtful about the way we combine the next generation of cloud-based analytics and automation with the right mix of human expertise.