The Influence of IoT in Smart Buildings

IoT in Smart Buildings

Smart buildings have been around for quite some time. The need to make them smart began with a need to conserve energy. When we save energy, we save money—and lots of it over time. It’s been shown that in most cases it’s possible to see return on investment (ROI) within 12 to 18 months. This is a powerful incentive for organizations to invest in the technology necessary to install a building management system (BMS). How can a facility executive say no to that?

Building management started with a collection of dissimilar systems, often referred to as “silos.” Linking them together was not an easy matter because each one “spoke” a different language. It was a lot of work interconnecting them until the early to mid-1990s when the Neuron chip and LonWorks (local operating network) were released by the Echelon Corporation.

Before that integration methods were crudely accomplished with relays and other hardware solutions.

It was in 1990/1991 that the Neuron chip was announced. The news was exciting because this chip and its accompanying LonWorks firmware promised that it could do something that had never been possible before—it enabled cross-platform communication. By 1999 LonWorks was submitted to ANSI where it became part of a larger standard. This made it possible to network devices over media such as twisted pair, fibre optics, radio frequency (RF), and electrical systems and power lines.

Despite the fact that Echelon’s LonWorks made it much easier to connect disparate silos in single or multiple buildings, engineers continued to ask themselves the question, “Is this the best we can do?”

These IoT sensors can be leveraged either through the use of a cloud-based data processing and storage center, through a central host at the facility itself, or a combination of both.