The Internet of Things (often called IoT) for commercial building projects can be overwhelming. IoT is made possible by installing a network of data-gathering sensors into the light fixtures throughout a commercial building. These sensors gather data about light, heat, occupancy, and more, and share it back to a central data repository where it is used by software applications to optimize the lighting and heating environment in the building. This dramatically reduces building energy use and operating costs.
In commercial buildings, IoT is increasingly required by the law. And with new energy efficient building codes, like California's Title 24, and new national energy standards like ASHRAE 90.1, some building owners are delaying projects to learn more about new technology and compliance. Others are waiting for the pace of technological change to slow before even considering new projects.
But moving forward with an IoT system installation can offer many benefits. For example, it can result in an immediate reduction in annual energy use as high as 75 percent for a building. This is at least partly why an increasing number of jurisdictions are making these technologies a legal requirement, and a permanent part of the building code.
Unfortunately, the rush to improve buildings with these new technologies has left many industry stakeholders behind. Recent research in California has shown that most project stakeholders believe the pace of building code change is causing project delays, and increasing the complexity of new and retrofit commercial building projects.
Building IoT makes commercial workspaces more efficient, productive and comfortable, and helps facility managers optimize spaces for an improved overall occupant experience.IoT development and consulting services makes commercial workspaces more efficient, productive and comfortable, and helps facility managers optimize spaces for an improved overall occupant experience.
Yet while the technology behind IoT for commercial buildings is complex, making a new construction project to IoT-ready is surprisingly simple. As simple, it turns out, as ordering the lights.
This is because many major lighting manufacturers are now producing light fixtures with advanced sensors installed that are designed to be IoT-ready out of the box. Once installed in a building, an IoT sensor can be easily plugged into the lighting fixture without the need for any kind of building infrastructure change, like the wired connections to central panels, DALI buses or DALI power packs that were required when upgrading a lighting system in the past.
Once the correct IoT-capable lighting fixtures are ordered and installed for a project, then an IoT system can be installed at some future date, and all of the code-compliant, future-proof capabilities of IoT for commercial buildings become available after a typically quick installation process.
This approach works seamlessly with many commercially available lighting fixtures. And because most IoT systems use wireless networks to collect data from the fixture, this also eliminates the need for extra relays and control devices thereby reducing the cost and complexity of creating an intelligent light fixture.
Once the project has the smart fixtures installed, the IoT system can be activated later with a separate, simple installation. The installation would typically happen at night to minimize disruption to building occupants, and would rely on wireless and cloud-based technologies, so would not require new electrical infrastructure or wiring.
Once installed, the benefits to having an IoT system in a building are far-reaching. Building IoT makes commercial workspaces more efficient, productive and comfortable, and helps facility managers optimize spaces for an improved overall occupant experience.
Similarly, the motion tracking components of a building IoT system make buildings safer, and assets more secure, while space design and planning becomes easier, and can be based on data that shows how real people actually use the building.
How the data generated by the building's smart sensors is used will be different for different types of customers. Facility managers may focus on energy efficiency, while retail store owners may focus on optimizing the customer experience.
The technology behind the Internet of Things is sophisticated, but most of this complexity is hidden from stakeholders on a typical construction project.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can use the technology to improve patient outcomes, and save lives. Industrial spaces can use IoT to improve the quality and efficiency of manufacturing processes.
Not only does IoT technology make a building code compliant, and future-proofed, it also leads to massive reductions in future operating costs for building owners. These savings can be built into the project budget to create room for expanded project scope for architects or project managers, or simply to reduce the overall cost of a project and increase the estimated return on a real estate investment.
For commercial construction executives and managers, this is an economic opportunity. The opportunity lies in helping to demystify the technology for customers, while introducing them to a new way of building, renovating, and operating commercial buildings. These new practices are becoming commonplace as buildings become more dynamic, technologically empowered, and data-driven. These are just a few of the many reasons to embrace IoT for commercial buildings as soon as possible.
The technology behind the Internet of Things is sophisticated, but most of this complexity is hidden from stakeholders on a typical construction project. It actually is easy to make a building IoT-ready during a commercial construction project. As easy as ordering the correct light fixtures.
Once a building is IoT-ready, the future benefits and savings, both for industry, and the wide variety of commercial building owners who are their customers, will be significant, and long-term.
Tanuj Mohan is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Enlighted. With more than 20 years as a technology expert, Mohan was responsible for solutions that manage the world's largest WiFi mesh network. Joe Costello, Enlighted's chairman and CEO has been a high tech executive and CEO for the past 28 years. Once named CEO of America, he currently is leading Enlighted to becoming the standard for lighting controls and smart buildings.