Devices that monitor appliances in buildings are a powerful way to help occupants manage their properties more efficiently and sustainably
We all know that rising energy consumption is a big threat to our future. And this is why, as I’ve spoken about in my previous column, there is a big push for sustainable and green buildings to reduce it.
But while engineers and constructors can build the most energy efficient buildings on Earth, if their occupants don’t know how to use the tools and appliances fitted, such as solar panels or condensing boilers, then these mod-cons can only be partly effective. This warrants concern from the construction industry because it means a building’s overall effectiveness as a structure is heavily reliant on how the occupants use it. Not on how it’s designed. So, despite the original building plan forecasting low energy costs, they are not always delivered and sustainable targets are not met.
However, with the help of technology builders can now have greater certainty that their sustainable designs can be used effectively. The Internet of Things (IoT) is largely associated with things such as wearable tech for monitoring your heartbeat but it really is much more than that. It is also a valuable asset for the construction industry. Constructors are able to fit devices to monitor appliances such as boilers and radiators, which allow residents to manage them more sensibly and once the building is completed,more sustainably. And in doing so, there is a greater chance that buildings will deliver on the as-designed promise of the forecasted energy usage.
Simulations are based on certain assumptions but real time data collected through the IoT means there is more information provided to the users, who can then make more informed, sustainable decisions
Hive is a great example of this, where occupants are able to control the temperature of their houses remotely. Think about it: How often do people look at the thermostat in their house? But if they have an app on their phone which notifies them when the temperature of the house is too high while they’re out, they can lower it instantly and therefore preserve energy usage. Or rather than a relying on a traditional timer, they can remotely switch the heating on while returning home which means they’re only using energy when they actually needed. And the same is true of corporate and office spaces, with advanced building management systems giving landlords the ability to manage everything from heating to airflow.
The IoT isn’t about changing the habits of builders but rather giving the industry more confidence that their designs are delivering on their promises by educating their inhabitants. Simulations are based on certain assumptions but real time data collected through the IoT means there is more information provided to the users, who can then make more informed, sustainable decisions. It’s a win-win situation and one which the building industry should certainly support.
Pete Baxter, vice president for worldwide engineering, natural resources and infrastructure sales at Autodesk