Cognitive: The Next Generation of Smarter Buildings

Ever since a boulder was positioned at the entry to a cave to keep bears away, or a portable structure was erected and then disassembled for a tribe to take with them as they followed the herds, buildings have been on a steadily smarter trajectory.
Describing a building as “smart” in the current environment can mean a lot of different things. The use of sustainable building materials, the installation of energy saving devices, the building’s orientation relative to its environment, and any number of operational efficiencies can all factor into a claim that a building is smart.

While every generation adds some technology that advances what and how we build, use, operate and trade buildings, this is the first era for the advanced use of IT, analytics and cognitive capabilities to make individual buildings and entire portfolios of buildings more intelligent.

Unlike previous forward advances on the trajectory of building management, the angle of the current path has veered sharply upwards—away from incremental improvements and towards thoroughly transformative possibilities. Advanced analytics is lowering maintenance costs, cutting energy consumption, reducing the carbon footprint, enabling a more efficient use of space, and improving quality of life.

Better space utilization is an objective that is too often overlooked. Considering that 100 percent of energy costs are saved on a building that is sold or never built in the first place, not to mention 100 percent of the operations and ownership costs, the potential to right-size the portfolio can be viewed as the ultimate benefit of building analytics. The evolution of analytics from simply automating manual assessments, to personal interaction with the building, to operating unit predictions of space needs, to cognitive inquiries about how the assets of buildings can optimize how an enterprise can grow.

Throughout modern buildings, an enormous range of sensors constantly produce data from lighting, occupancy indicators, security mechanisms, HVAC components, electrical plug loads, utility meters and more.
The key to the new model of facilities management is the integration of signals from the full range of unrelated components into a system of systems that drives greater awareness, learning and insight.

While the volume and velocity of data tends to far exceed current capacity for leveraging the information, advanced cognitive and analytic capabilities are enabling the aggregation of data and revealing a depth of understanding about how the building’s systems are working and how buildings are being utilized. Descriptive analytics creates the foundation for another level of predictive capabilities that leverage ongoing and historical data to develop statistical models that inform a proactive approach to building management and maintenance.

This new vision is enabling a range of efficiencies that can include:

  • A shift from calendar-based maintenance to real-time condition and predictive maintenance
  • Avoidance of unnecessary repairs or replacement of components
  • Faster or immediate diagnostics
  • The creation of event correlation algorithms that help identify root causes of malfunctions or possible cascading failures
  • Inclusion of cognitive analytics

The outcomes  are better decisions, greater efficiencies, higher learning and significantly lower costs.

Advanced analytics harbor profound possibilities for buildings, building owners, investors, tenants, cities, and the entire planet. We don’t leverage this information because it’s the right thing to do or because it’s good to know. We do so to realize a transformative outcome, and that’s the point of advanced cognitive and analytic building management.

Looking to learn more about the potential of harnessing your building’s data? Register and read our Digital Paper on Building Management.

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