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The New Dialogue in Smart Buildings

Game Changer

Commercial real estate operators and building owners are adapting to the change in building automation technology that is occurring in the industry. Innovation has reshaped how we manage, operate and interact with our buildings and facilities. Connected systems, data and analytics is broadening our conversation in the world of smart buildings - engaging not only facility operators in the discussion, but the C-Suite as well.  

Today, most have embraced the fact that technology is the game changer and is the cornerstone of operating buildings as an economic model. As the technology surrounding engineering design and energy management systems have evolved, so has the dialogue around smart buildings. Driven by digital transformation and a change in value propositions; changes in the role of facilities are shifting to create healthy, safe and productive environments.  

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Analytics at the Edge

One of the primary appeals of IoT within the built environment is the ability to connect to existing data-rich devices and equipment for greater analysis and insight into their operation and performance. Over the past couple of years, we have seen clear movement toward computing and intelligence to the edge. With it, the industry is moving towards a distributed data architecture where multiple nodes work together to perform analytics at the edge.

Computing and analytics are increasingly beginning to reside at the equipment and device sources, enabling data to be generated faster, more efficiently and more reliably than ever before. The ongoing evolution of micro-processing technology has meant that sufficient computing power to perform the heavy lifting of data analysis can now be performed directly onboard the devices themselves. This evolution is happening because of the need to streamline the amount and types of data, reduce latency and manage bandwidth, reduce the amount of data sent to the cloud, reduce complexity, decrease network, improve system response time and decrease potential failure points. The result is the advent of Edge Analytics.

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Building Wellness

In the last several years, we have seen the building conversation change to: “How does a building affect people’s health and productivity?”

Today, building owners, operators, occupants and tenants are all looking for work environments that embrace technology to enable collaborative, healthy and comfortable working experiences. This includes the “wellness of the workplace”.

Construction Dive, “Wellness” reports, buildings are supposed to improve human health and quality of life. Everything from natural light to air and water quality to open office layouts can be considered a part of the movement to make buildings healthier for the people who live and work in them.

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OT and IT. Closing the Gap.

There was once a time when IT and building operations technology (OT) had no reason to talk. OT and IT were developed to accomplish two distinctly different missions, with contrasting agendas and dissimilar tools and priorities. IT used to be about printers, networks and workstations, etc., and OT handled building systems such as HVAC, lighting, sensors and so on. Many cultural and technological impediments make IT/OT convergence challenging. From the perspective of culture, IT and OT have traditionally been well-separated domains.

While the importance of technology to control and operate facilities is not new, the technology has advanced so this divide and separation of powers between OT and IT is radically changing. Smarter building equipment, digital transformation, IoT, accessing and sharing of data, analytics and the increased visibility of cybersecurity and privacy issues are bringing these two worlds together.

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Transparency in Buildings. Why It Matters.

The commercial building market was once about acquiring and managing buildings. Today, we are beginning to hear about transparency and its importance in managing and operating buildings. Transparency has become a strategic lever enabling organizations to achieve broader business agendas, achieve improved business and operational outcomes, and create new levels of value.

While transparency has not been top of mind in the past, we are now beginning to experience the early days of it. It has been said that transparency, implies openness, communication and accountability. As this transformation continues, we need to look at it from the perspective of how it is beginning to take place within our building environments.

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