In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama set a goal of reducing dependence on polluting fuels over the next quarter century. In the U.S., buildings account for 40% of our total energy use, and by 2023, will be the top emitter of carbon dioxide. In IBM's strategic initiative to make buildings “smarter” we have found a significant opportunity to improve energy usage and building performance. Leveraging existing IT and communication technology, we have developed a way to wire into building management systems to drive end to end analytics and real time improvements. The results have shown up to a 200% return on investment. Utilizing this technology in one of our highest energy consuming manufacturing sites we created an 8% reduction in energy on top of the 6% reduction already being driven through energy improvement programs. That’s a 14% total year over year reduction!
President Obama also said that we need to out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. He stressed the need for cutting edge initiatives in areas such as innovation and infrastructure. Making our new and existing buildings smarter is a great opportunity to do this. Innovation in building management not only makes them greener, it makes them more efficient and reducing building maintenance costs is key to making companies more profitable.. Innovation for smarter buildings includes a range of leading initiatives from analytics to smarter sensor technologies and related algorithms.
Leadership in this area will require a new set of skills that combine building facility management with IT management. This is driven by the convergence of digital and physical advances in the building space. Opportunities for these new skills and new roles are already being embraced by top universities as they create new cross-discipline majors. Tulane University is a great example as they work to rebuild not only the campus and city that was devastated by Katrina, but also the degree programs that will be relevant as we move forward and respond to the kind of call to action that Obama outlined. Tulane is working to combine engineering and life sciences in new ways and rise to the challenge of reinventing their school of architecture to include smarter building management.
The challenge is clear but the good news is so is the answer. We can get started today to rebuild our cities and communities, one smarter building at a time. We can accelerate this with new skills and roles for our workforce and show real leadership in the world.