Constructing a Smart Building

Planning a building project is an opportunity to create new spaces and make an architectural statement. Today, a building can also be designed to make the most out of the energy and water it consumes. With minimal upfront costs and a payoff that will last for as long as the building is in service, why construct anything other than a smart building? Key technologies include building automation systems, flexible lighting and HVAC systems and other integrated building systems.

Building automation systems
The brain of an intelligent building is the automation system. It can coordinate heating, cooling, ventilation, shading, security, fire protection, plumbing and other powered building systems. ASHRAE has a design standard for intelligent buildings, the Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Systems, which can be found on BACnet’s web site. This standard can serve as a guide for automation system design, and a popular platform like Niagra can form the core of the computerized controller.

With a building automation system, the mechanical, plumbing and lighting systems can be coordinated with building envelope systems like solar shades and economizers to produce a well controlled and comfortable building interior with minimum energy use.

Lighting strategies
In a modern commercial building, high efficiency lighting is a given. However, the variety of LED fixtures available today is giving designers new options. Occupancy controls based in the building automation system guarantee that lights will be switched on only where and when they’re needed.

A new building project is also a great opportunity to take full advantage of the latest technology for daylighting and controlling solar gain. Solar shades and light wells can be manipulated by building controllers to bring light and heat where it’s needed but to control sunlight where it’s likely to create uncomfortable conditions.

HVAC Systems
A smart building needs smart HVAC systems. The building will minimize its need for powered HVAC through passive heating and cooling, through a well insulated building envelope and through smart controls. Compared to a the HVAC systems in a conventional building, they will need to be smaller and more flexible.

Zoned systems are a must. The HVAC needs to be switched on in spaces that are in use and switched off where they aren’t needed. Local controls can make the building more comfortable and can also increase efficiency by, for example, making it possible to turn down the heat locally rather than opening a window during the winter.

Other Systems
Building automation systems don’t just increase the energy efficiency of the HVAC. They can also control building access and security, fire protection systems, plumbing, and sustainable technologies like solar water heating and greywater systems.

Building commissioning
Once the building is complete, it’s very important to confirm that all of the systems, including the building envelope, work as intended. Building commissioning is a systematic process where the building mechanical systems are tested to confirm that they’re correctly installed and working at full efficiency. The building envelope is tested to make sure that it’s fully insulated and air tight. Every technical aspect of the building is confirmed before it’s put into service.

Once a smart building is in use, its automation systems help to monitor and maintain its efficiency. A building with a control system can be continuously optimized and is an asset to any business owner.

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