We’ve all seen the commercials on television where an IBM-er tells us that creating a smarter planet starts with building smarter cities. Going a step further, however, these cities are themselves made up of a network of buildings. Recognizing this, IBM has taken recent strides in its less-publicized Smart Buildings initiative; attempting to make the structures we live and work in operate more intelligently and efficiently. And there is a lot of room for improvement.
Currently, buildings consume 70% of all electricity in the United States, up to 50% of which is wasted. Projections state that by 2025, buildings will surpass automobiles as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet.
By integrating systems in a building and constantly monitoring them in real-time, IBM’s Intelligent Building Management product gives building owners and managers the tools to optimize energy, improve reliability, and save money. Linking motion sensors with lights, and connecting both to the HVAC system allows a conference room to know when it will be occupied, and prepare light and air for that interval and no longer. Doing so utilizes space, resources, and energy much more efficiently, and is just the tip of the iceberg of what these seemingly-intuitive systems can accomplish.
Jim Fletcher, IBM’s Chief Architect of the Smart Buildings initiative, argues that the term “Smart Building” is itself a misnomer. Mr. Fletcher instead maintains that our current building stock is so “dumb,” the goal can only be to make them a little smarter one step at a time. While personifying the built environment to this degree may seem like a bit of a stretch, it would be a mistake to overlook obvious and logical inefficiencies occurring in buildings all around us. Stay tuned: as IBM and other firms continue to gather data in the space, potential synergies and efficiencies will continue to arise, and bottom-line savings will become impossible to ignore.
This approach has contributed to IBM’s recent designation by Newsweek as the Greenest Company in America. Here’s to hoping more firms follow the lead.
Read more about IBM’s Intelligent Building Management products here.
By Kenneth Lipschutz