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We can – and should – make green buildings even smarter

If you're sitting in an office right now, take a moment to consider your surroundings. It's more than a place to plug in your computer. Your building is a massive system of systems. And chances are that even if it's a "green" building, it's one of the largest expenses on your company's income statement.

The National Science and Technology Council in the United States estimates that commercial and residential buildings consume a third of the world's energy. In North America, for example, this translates to 72 percent of the electricity generation, 12 percent of the water use, and 60 percent of non-industrial waste.

Consider another fact. If worldwide energy-use trends continue, buildings will become the largest consumer of global energy by 2025 ― more than the transportation and industrial sectors combined. And waste as much as half of the electricity and water that they use.

What is your building trying to say?
Although green buildings are constructed using sustainable materials, smarter buildings are designed to run more efficiently and — more important — to communicate with and about their various systems.

With the unprecedented proliferation of smart sensors and control systems over the past decade, many conventional and green buildings have the ability to measure, sense and see the exact condition of practically everything in them. But these systems operate independently, through a mix of vendors, and with different protocols and transport mechanisms. They also advance and mature at different rates.

Smarter buildings that emerge from a holistic point of view involve collaboration between facilities and IT organisations at new levels and require new transformational skills in organisations or businesses.

The social side of Smarter Buildings

Graphic: What makes a smarter building? Systems that talk to systems.

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In our own backyard: a smarter building at IBM

The ability to collect, analyse and sort building data quickly is critical to the realtime energy and performance optimisation of a smarter building. Consider one of IBM's own projects: a manufacturing site in Rochester, Minnesota, that covers 3.3 million square feet.

The facility had more than 250,000 sensor points with the potential to report information. But only about 1/3 of these sensors, approximately 80,000 data points, changed often enough to be deemed necessary to look at on a routine basis.

The team quickly realised that only 12 percent changed status often enough to be sampled for performance and energy optimisation. Even so, 12 percent equalled 2,150,000 points of information that had to be collected and resolved monthly. To help sort out what to do with this data, the team turned to IBM TRIRIGA solutions.

Along with building enhancements that had been implemented over the past seven years, such as improving insulation and roof material, this helped the team achieve an incremental 8 percent energy savings on the monitored equipment.

What are Smarter Buildings?

Businesses face increasing pressure to reduce costs and run property in a more efficient and sustainable way. This can be achieved by designing and operating buildings in a much smarter way.

IBM & Johnson Controls on Smarter Buildings

Johnson Controls was formed around 126 years ago and today looks after approximately 1.5 billion square feet of property. Their capabilities and experience teamed with IBM's technology and advanced analytics can really bring additional value to clients and help create smart buildings of the future.

Johnson Controls & IBM  Smarter Buildings Solutions

Smarter Buildings - building a smarter future together

Smarter buildings are integrated, operationally efficient, energy efficient, safe and secure plus the demand of the building is matched to the building itself. IBM is working together across industries to deliver end to end solutions for clients.

Smart buildings  Building a smart future together