The UAE is constructing some of the world’s smartest buildings to reduce operating costs and improve the working environment
Of all the trends in digital transformation, the rise of smart buildings is set to be one of the most far-reaching. Smart buildings, encompassing everything from family homes to factories, and from office blocks to bus shelters, aim to provide new levels of efficiency, comfort and productivity, through sensor-driven data
. By 2022, the installed base of connected building automation devices will reach 483 million units worldwide, according to analyst company Berg Insight, representing a market of US$2.7bn, as more and more buildings add smart features and capabilities. There is no single definition of what constitutes a smart building, with a very diverse range of smart functions and services on offer.
The uptake of smart buildings is partly an evolution, as existing buildings get retrofits and add more capabilities to their existing building solutions, and partly revolution, with buildings under construction that aim to include smart technologies from ground up, creating new degrees of efficiency in construction and operations. In terms of the actual services and capabilities that go into a smart building, there are as many solution sets as there are types of buildings, although there are some common areas of focus.
Traditional building and facilities systems, including systems to manage HVAC, escalators and elevators, access controls and security, are one of the main areas where smart systems are being implemented. Typically these systems are gaining more connectivity, and are integrating more sensors to give more data on efficient, cost-effective operation, and to support maintenance.
Many solutions are focused on energy efficiency, such as smart power metering, systems to track energy wastage and solutions that track building occupancy to reduce power consumption through managing lighting or cooling in facilities that are unoccupied. Along with efficient operating of building systems, many smart buildings are also providing systems for more efficient and productive usage by humans.
Productivity-focused systems encompass everything from smart lighting that can direct vehicles to free parking or direct building occupants o meeting rooms; interactive meeting room technology; systems for room bookings all the way to complete integration with the company’s ERP or CRM.
Better functioning buildings can also support productivity by improving the well-being of staff, according to Ram Venkat, smart buildings marketing manager, Schneider Electric: “While their purposes may be different, smart buildings ultimately contribute to the well being of the occupants. For example, studies indicate that there is 35% less sick leave in well-ventilated buildings.
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