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June 19, 2019

Smart buildings are getting smarter, but can building managers keep up?



As reported in The Western Star, with trillions of dollars in commercial real estate assets, building and facility managers are searching for innovative ways to maintain structures in a state of good repair while reducing operating costs by cutting waste and energy consumption.

In the U.S. alone, buildings account for 40 per cent of the total energy consumed, which outpaces energy used by any other sector.

The recent advances in communication and information technology, advanced computing and smart algorithms in a hyper-connected world present new opportunities for managing buildings and structures. Enabled by technology, smart buildings have the potential to consume less energy, generate less waste and provide better quality spaces to inhabitants.

While the concept of energy-efficient green buildings is appealing, its implementation relies on a smart workforce to join the ranks of building and facility managers. A trade show focusing on building and facility management recently revealed that the shortage of skilled professionals could be the Achilles’ heel for the energy-efficient future.

A series of expert panels at the REMI Show ’19 earlier this month in Toronto discussed how the Internet of Things, which enables an extensive network of interconnected computers, sensors and objects combined with smart algorithms driven by deep learning and artificial intelligence, has the potential to transform building and facility management.

Whereas current estimates of the market for smart technology in facility management stand at around US$15 billion, that figure is expected to soon grow to $137 billion.

The use of data in building management reveals performance indicators that remain hidden otherwise. A 2015 article in the journal Sustainable Cities and Society reported water use from 2,046 multi-residential buildings in New York City. The buildings had a minimum size of 50,000 square feet. The research found that buildings “in neighborhoods with a greater proportion of renter-occupied units have far higher water use intensity than similar-owner occupied structures.” At the same time, water use was found to be lower in co-op buildings. Without data, it would not be possible to know what type of neighbourhoods or buildings have higher or lower water consumption.

Keep reading in The Western Star

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