Building owners today are starting to think outside the box, and consider the impact of building smart houses on the electrical grid, the mission of their organization and the repercussions on the global environment. Building smart houses today is no longer a question of constructing buildings that contain system which provide comfort, light and safety to the owner. Now they are looking beyond that towards the future, where smart buildings of the future must connect to the world in an integrated, dynamic and functional way. Here is envisioned a building of the near future which seamlessly fulfills its mission to the owner, while minimizing energy cost, supporting a robust electric grid and mitigating environmental impact.
What does this mean for smart building investors? Well, there is a high rate of initial investment that must be secured when buying a smart house. However, if smart houses are to become the norm in the future, and provide integrated living to the masses, the primary goal must be to minimize the long-term cost of building ownership to owners, occupants, and the environment. In high-performance buildings, all components are integrated to work together towards to the goal of improving operational performance, increasing occupant comfort and satisfaction and providing the owner with systems, tools and technologies to manage smart living and minimize energy consumption.
If we look at it from a consumer perspective, owners are demanding more information about the performance of their smart buildings, so that they in turn, can reduce operating costs, and meet corporate sustainability goals, while keeping occupants safe, comfortable and productive. In order to meet these demands, new applications have emerged that allow intelligent, stand-alone building management devices to do much more than just connect, or “talk,” to each other over a standard communications network. These devices are now able to have meaningful “conversations” with each other that truly tap into their embedded intelligence. Cooperating together, without human assistance, they can predict trouble, analyze needs and direction, and take preventative actions. Here smart buildings of the future will extend their capabilities to, not only by helping owners attain their facility-related goals and optimizing system and capabilities, but also by integrating with other devices to create “their own” smart agenda, based on feedback and analysis of human needs and wishes!
How can a smart house save money and optimize operation and efficiency?
- By optimizing cooling and ventilation equipment so that system will spend the minimum amount of money to provide maximum comfort.
- By matching occupancy patterns to energy use
- By proactive innovation and maintenance of equipment
- By dynamic power consumption.
Does it only apply to brand new buildings? Absolutely not! Some of the “smartest” buildings in the world are not new at all, but have proven a great return on investment over time. Look at the Empire Building in New York, which exceeded projected savings for the consecutive year in a row, since it had a complete smart building retrofit in 2009.
However, for many property owners and investors, the value of smart building technology remains unclear and the return on investment appears long off. What investors need to understand is that while smart technology does require upfront capital investment, in the long run it is proven to reduce overall operating costs over time. Smart buildings should not be perceived as costly vague investments, but rather a firm technological investment which will typically pay for itself within one or two years by maximizing energy savings and delivering on performance and reduced maintenance costs. Neither are there training costs associated with facility management of a smart building, as a smart building will provide intuitive tools that are designed to improve and enhance the existing tools in place. As the smart building evolves, the sharing of information between smart building systems and components will provide the platform for innovation. Future applications will appear as facility managers interact with tools and technology to perform better – providing greater comfort, safety and security with reduced costs, energy expenditure and less environmental impact.
Smart buildings are paving the way towards a more intelligent future by not only saving resources and energy costs, but impacting the safety and security of all resources, both human and capital and ensuring sustainability. As systems converge and we move towards a more intelligent future, we have also a moral responsibility to our planet to ensure that improving our way of life, does not detriment the environment. Smart houses reduce drastically the environmental impact on the planet. After all, it is not a building for now, it is a building for the future.