New Technologies Make Smart Buildings Even Smarter

A building automation system (BAS), or building management system, offers automatic, cohesive, centralized control of a building’s systems – heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire, security, lighting and others.  

Smart buildings take the automated management approach slightly further. Designed to use information technology, they connect and provide building services such as the ones listed above. They are also able to deliver these services at a lower cost throughout the life of a building.

Smart Building Innovations

In a recent post, BuiltWorlds highlighted 50 innovative companies that are producing some exciting software and hardware for buildings which control water systems, roof systems, security, mobility, lighting, energy systems and building management. The innovations also encompass a building’s windows, furniture, pavement, foundations, envelopes and structures. Below is a selection of these companies along with some of their technologies:

  • Sagegreenlife (Chicago, IL, Founded: 2009) – Using living walls and other elements that consume little water, this company integrates nature into a building’s interior environment.
  • Igor (Johnston, IA, Founded: 2013) – Real-time lighting monitoring that uses motion-activated sensors and controls the amount of light given off based on the time of day.
  • OpenEE (Chicago, Founded: 2015) – The OpenEEmeter allows private companies, utilities and regulators to calculate savings for a certain set of building efficiency projects.
  • Branch Technology – (Chattanooga, TN, Founded: 2014) – 3D printing and cellular fabrication platform that turns 3D models and designs into robotic code. Designs are then manufactured using freeform 3D printers and installed.
  • Intellihot – (Galesburg, IL, Founded: 2006) – Commercial, tankless water heaters that track usage to reduce the cost of heating water.
  • AquaGen Infrastructure Systems (Yarmouth, MA, Founded: 1985) – Water systems that turn wastewater into a renewable resource using algae.
  • Photosynth – (Tokyo, Founded: 2014) – Produces Akerun, a smart lock allowing PCs, smartphones and wearable devices to open doors.
  • ALICE (Las Vegas, Founded: 2010) – The ALICE Receptionist is an automated visitor management system which greets and register visitors then notifies the correct employees.
  • WeSmartPark (Barcelona, Spain, Founded: 2013) – An automated, real-time parking management system that uses sensors to monitor space availability.
  • ChargePoint (Campbell, CA, Founded: 2007) – A mobile app that helps drivers find charging ports.
  • Solar Roadways (Sandpoint, ID, Founded: 2006) – Intelligent solar panels that can be walked on and driven upon.
  • Lightspeed Road Solar (Aurora, CO, Founded: 2008) – Environmentally friendly and maintenance-free in-road solar-powered lighting that does not require cables, trenching or electrical connections.
  • Pavegen (London, Founded: 2009) – A commercial flooring tile that converts kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity.
The Future of Smart Buildings

Globally, the smart buildings market is projected to grow to a $25 billion industry by the end of 2022, up from about $5.4 billion in 2015. Led by companies like Honeywell International Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Siemens AG, Delta Controls, Johnson Controls International PLC and BuildingIQ, the future of buildings worldwide is smart. As one author says,

We are already experiencing rapid advancement in data transmission and processing speeds, and can store more information than ever before in the cloud. When these advances are combined with improved data analysis we will be able make that information actionable, and transform the way we consider, manage and interact with our environments.

Ever-improving technology and the growing IoT (internet of things – physical devices embedded with electronics, sensors, software and network connectivity) will allow even more objects within a building to share data with other nearby objects. This extension of a building’s ability to analyze and process data could move building management systems even closer to total building automation.

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