IoT Considerations, Requirements, and Architectures for Smart Buildings – Energy Optimization and Next Generation Building Management Systems
The Internet of Things (IoT) is entering the daily operation of many industries; applications include but are not limited to smart cities, smart grids, smart homes, physical security, e-health, asset management, and logistics. For example, the concept of smart city is emerging in multiple continents, where enhanced street lighting controls, infrastructure monitoring, public safety and surveillance, physical security, gunshot detection, meter reading, and transportation analysis and optimization systems are being deployed on a city-wide scale. A related and cost-effective user-level IoT application is the support of IoT-enabled smart buildings. Commercial space has substantial requirements in terms of comfort, usability, security, and energy management. IoT-based systems can support these requirements in an organic manner. In particular, Power over Ethernet (PoE), as part of an IoT-based solution, offers disruptive opportunities in revolutionizing the in-building connectivity of a large swath of devices. However, a number of deployment-limiting issues currently impact the scope of IoT utilization, including lack of comprehensive end-to-end standards, fragmented cybersecurity solutions, and a relative dearth of fully-developed vertical applications. This article reviews some of the technical opportunities offered and the technical challenges faced by the IoT in the smart building arena.
In recent years one has observed a fruitful convergence for various building technologies and systems to an IP-based infrastructure supported by the firm’s intranet (in multi-tenant buildings a building-oriented intranet may be required.) Technological convergence as it relates to building management and smart buildings is accelerating with the increasing deployment of IP-based endpoint devices under the thrust of IoT. A few years ago various building systems utilized different protocols, networks, and cabling systems; clearly this is inefficient from both a deployment perspective as well from a system management perspective. The realization occurred that it would be easier to install a common cabling infrastructure (for example twisted pair Category 6 cable) for all the various functions, and also migrate to a state of using of a common set of protocols (e.g., the TCP/IP suite); in addition, a common management system can be utilized. Figure 2 depicts graphically the convergence that has already occurred in recent years, and IoT concepts will further enhance, standardize, and extend the service function and the service scope. The IoT is expected to make major inroads during the second half of this decade and the first half of the next decade. Various forecasts for IoT deployments have been offered by key industry.
A relevant observation is that energy is a relatively big-ticket item for many industries, including office buildings and office campuses. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review , as an aggregate, the U.S. energy consumption is traditionally around 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in the range of $1.3T annually. In terms of actual usage, commercial offices consumed 20.4% of the total electrical energy, mercantile operations (retail stores and malls) 16.6%, educational institutions 10.8%, healthcare institutions 8.6%, and lodging 7.2% (the balance is used by other industries.) While the energy expenditures vary by industry and by region of the country, as a comparative reference number a typical firm may expect to spend 5-10% of its operating costs on energy. For example, a $1 million company may spend upwards of $100,000 a year and a $100M company may spend up to $10M per year in energy (some of these costs may be ‘sunk’ into an office lease fee.) As seen, about 81% of the expenditure in an office building is generally associated with known elements; these elements can be targeted for efficiency improvements. For example, if a 20% improvement can be achieved, a typical $1,000,000 company could save $200,000 per year, or about a million dollars over five years (this assumes that savings accrues to the tenant – in same case energy costs are pre-built into the office space lease.
In recent years, governments and regulatory agencies around the world have increased their focus on commercial buildings, given the fact that buildings are large consumers of energy. Continued regulation is expected (at least in some parts of the world), including mandates for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets. Therefore, stakeholders should investigate evolving technologies such a next-generation BMS, PoE, IoT, cloud services, and converged networks to get a better handle on the issue, save expenses on the bottom line, and future-proof their environments and their investments. In the face of some of the challenges faced by energy management of smart buildings based on IoT-centered systems (a number of which were highlighted in Section VII), there are significant industry and technical opportunities. The desire to reduce energy costs both by the building owners and the tenants, as well by the energy suppliers looking to cut peak-rate consumption and construction of peaking power plants, along with the optimization of comfort levels for office users and residents for both temperature and lighting conditions, affords this industry a strong business opportunity. From a technology perspective, the development of appropriate architectures and supporting standards, such that both equipment cost-effectiveness and interoperability will be beneficial. It is also critical to develop and deploy strong IoT Sec capabilities system-wide.
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