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Making the connection with Internet of Things


Connected buildings, Internet of Things and smart devices are popular industry buzzwords. But do you have a true understanding of what a connected building is and the benefits it can provide? Here are some insights from the experts at Trane:

Connected devices, such as lighting, security systems and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, produce data that can be captured and applied to significantly increase energy savings and operational efficiencies. Technology advances and the ability to turn building system data into usable information also enables a more sophisticated approach to service and maintenance.

A predictive maintenance program that leverages building system data can reduce equipment downtime up to 50%, according to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report, “The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype.” No matter how big or small the building automation system (BAS) is, data can be gathered and used to meet the owner’s goals.

What matters most are the outcomes. Whether the goal is energy efficiency, cost savings or improved occupant comfort, a connected building can help owners achieve their desired outcomes.

Real-world application: In one project example, a movie theater chain used a building management system to integrate HVAC and lighting controls at each of its locations. The building-level systems connect to a web-enabled, enterprise-level BAS network. This cloud-based connectivity allows a facility manager to monitor, control and apply changes to its buildings across the country from a central location.

This connected building system delivers numerous benefits, including the ability to synchronize lighting and HVAC system setpoints with ticket sales and show time schedules. As the cinema lobby fills on Friday nights, the data from ticket sales is used to automatically adjust the temperature in each theater to ensure the best climate conditions regardless of how full the theater is. The theater chain saves money by leveraging automatic heating, cooling and lighting adjustments based on occupancy needs.

Advanced services available through the theater’s building management system also provide 24/7 remote resolution of system alarms and intelligent dispatching of system information and troubleshooting to the technicians’ handheld devices.


Tips for capitalizing on a building's IoT

Make it a priority. Even with connected systems and all the data they provide, it can be easy for a building to lose efficiency when it is not a focus. Consider what is most important in the building: Is it comfort, productivity, efficiency, energy savings or something else?

Make sure there’s a clear, unambiguous priority list that is broadly agreed upon and communicated, whether it’s with building owners, facility managers, service partners or tenants. This helps align goals and metrics to ensure optimal comfort and operational costs within the building.

Look for flexible solutions. Facilities, spaces and tenants change often. Look for equipment solutions that are nimble. For example, using wireless communication technology between building systems and devices allows for more flexibility during the life of the building compared to traditional wired systems.

Explore a BAS that allows for integration of new equipment and can generate performance reports for changing needs.

Partner wisely. Connectivity of building systems can result in a tremendous amount of data and it can be overwhelming to consider how to best use it. Working with a provider that has expertise in building controls and integration is beneficial for optimizing building performance.

Building owners will continue to adopt IoT devices for their buildings, and it is estimated that 20.8 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide by 2020. Buildings have energy coursing through their veins that produces data, and that data is like a language waiting to be translated.  Once it’s deciphered, it’s full of valuable information and insight. When you understand what a building is saying, you can transform that building into a stronger asset.

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