Big Data at the Heart of Smart Buildings

Posted on July 18, 2017

Before Big Data 

In the past, before companies began using the Internet of Things and Big Data, buildings tended to employ BIM systems. Whilst BIM (building information modelling) worked well to a degree, the system had a number of shortcomings, including a costly undertaking if a smart building needed to be retrofitted with them. Now, with the inception of IoT and big data, properties are easily retrofitted with smart sensors and installed at a reasonable price, with outstanding results.

What is Big Data? 

Big Data concerns enormous quantities of structured and unstructured data that is received by businesses daily. Using big data solutions in buildings has enormously favourable results. Equipping facility managers with pertinent data allows them to make vital decisions with an educated comprehension. In doing so, not only are vast amounts of money saved but the building becomes far more eco-friendly by saving unnecessary energy waste, as well as eliminating, by and large, future operational problems.

Saving Energy

Buildings expend considerable amounts of energy daily – and often – unnecessarily. All buildings’ assets consume energy, most significantly in ensuring a space’s comfortable temperature and lighting. In order to avoid extraneous energy and operations use, it is important that assets are monitored and managed efficiently. Smart sensors, which communicate with the Internet of Things, transmit real-time data, which can then be analyzed to ascertain how energy is being consumed, and if so, is it being consumed in an efficient or inefficient manner. The data collected can help facility managers identify energy waste in their properties, spaces and buildings and therefore, resolve the issue. Saving energy by analyzing big data can also significantly improve a building’s lifecycle. In the case of energy inefficiency, a building’s lifecycle may not be fully protracted.

Interval data can also be very valuable when reviewing a building’s performance under particular conditions and situations. For example, on a very hot day, sensors monitor how much energy is used to keep a space cool. This data is then compared with another set of data that has been collected when energy levels were monitored on a moderately warm day.  Through analyzing the two sets of data, facility managers are able to recognize improvement opportunities in energy saving.

By 2020, it has been estimated that the demand for energy-management systems in North America will have proliferated to approximately $1.6 billion1, demonstrating the growing importance of energy saving.

Saving Money

Saving energy means saving money. Up to 71% of a building’s expenses are operational costs, with 30% of the outgoings being attributed to energy costs2. This is clear evidence that poor and inefficient facility operations can cause a building’s proprietor an inordinate amount of charges. This is where big data can alleviate financial burdens.  Smart sensors installed throughout the building are constantly monitoring the building’s environment and capturing this data in real time.

This allows facility managers access to view an asset’s performance and energy output, whenever and wherever, enabling them to improve their operations if needed. Furthermore, facility management can view the collected data to recognise potential, future problems and combat these issues before they occur. Naturally, this saves a property large sums of money by solving any difficulties before they demand a total and costly overhaul.

Saving the Planet 

Big Data will also help reduce a building’s carbon footprint and help them create sustainability throughout a property. The alarming rate at which fossil fuel is consumed annually means that buildings will have to start using their energy wisely in order to combat the growing CO2 emissions. Big data can provide critical insight into the way a building distributes energy by providing information that will allow facility managers to tackle the problem and create a more eco-friendly environment.

Smart Sensors 

Smart sensors are an essential part of big data. They monitor assets and communicate their findings to the Internet of Thing, creating big data. They play a pivotal role in helping to prevent asset malfunctions or energy wastage. Tech companies such as LTD provide these sleek and highly sensitive sensors.

Urbanise’s sensors monitor a wide range of assets, helping to streamline operations. From maintaining optimal temperatures to monitoring energy consumption, these sensors help to avoid issues such as flooding and will alert facility management when an asset needs maintenance. They are a fundamental part of big data in buildings, helping to cut energy costs and ensure operation efficiency3.

A Smart Future 

Smart buildings are imperative for a harmonic and robust future and will help to contribute to lowering CO2 emissions, cutting unnecessary financial outgoings and avoiding energy wastage. Through the analysis of big data in buildings, facility management can optimize energy expenditure without sacrificing comfort.

Additionally, all this data is accessible on smart phones, tablets and laptops, promising around-the-clock connection. This is important in order to address any of the building’s issues instantaneously, as well as enabling facility managers to make expeditious and precise decisions and to execute them with a similar haste.

Memoori Smart Building Research has estimated that the Big Data and Cloud Based Software and Services in Smart Buildings market will increase at a rate of 33.2% annually, which means that it will hit almost $30 billion by 20204. This is suggestive that through harnessing big data, establishments can become smart buildings.