The term “smart building” is currently buzzing in commercial real estate circles around the world. Thanks to the exponential growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), many new buildings are incorporating network-enabled building management systems to help monitor and automate a variety building operations. Smart building technology does have challenges, such as being able to simultaneously monitor sophisticated sensors and equipment from a variety of manufacturers to ensure they are operating as intended, and keeping real-time tabs on the performance of the building’s own networks. By leveraging the versatility of the widely adopted Simple Network Management Protocol, commonly known as SNMP, these challenges can be overcome.
Smart building technology has allowed commercial tenants to realize substantial gains in efficiency especially in the areas of power consumption, HVAC systems, CO2 emissions and water usage. This technology can have a significant impact on the organization’s profit margins, help conserve on water, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create a better operating environment for computers and equipment, while simultaneously making the environment more pleasant for people working in and flowing through these buildings.
Here are some prolific examples of how smart buildings are transforming the commercial landscape:
New York Times Saving Big Time on Energy
Built in 2007, the New York Times Building is a landmark on the west side of Midtown Manhattan, standing as the 6th largest building in a city of tall buildings. Headquarters to the New York Times newspaper, other publications and business tenants, this 52-story building, with over 1.5 million-square-feet of commercial office space, was originally designed to use 1.28 watts of lighting power per square foot. According to a recent article in Forbes, when the “publisher proceeded to implement a management system that aligned lighting controls, motorized window shades, sensors, digital ballast and LED drivers,” all of which were coordinated via a web-based system that allows the sun to be the main source of light, adjusting lighting levels for the intensity of outside light and whether a room is occupied, power consumption was cut down to 0.4 watts per square foot… an incredible saving of 70 per cent!
AT&T Saves Millions with High-Efficiency Retrofits
In 2013, AT&T decided to lower their energy consumption across 1000 of their largest energy-consuming sites along with 500 retail sites using smart energy technologies. AT&T estimates that this huge retrofit project is saving the company approximately $8 million in lighting energy per year, and overall energy consumption could be reduced by $200 million over 10 years.
Sello Achieves Platinum LEED Certification with Smart HVAC Systems
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, typically account for 44 percent of commercial buildings’ energy consumption, having a huge impact on building costs, operations and the experience people have when working in or visiting any commercial site.
Located just 12 minutes from the centre of Helsinki, Sello is Finland’s most visited shopping mall, with 24 million visitors per year from all round the world coming to peruse the more than 170 shops and attractions. Sello is also Finland’s most sustainable shopping centre. In 2010, Sello became the first LEED EB Gold-certified shopping centre in Europe and achieved Platinum certification in 2015.
A pivotal component of these certifications, was a focus on air quality and energy efficiency by deploying smart building technology and optimization to Sello’s HVAC systems and related infrastructure:
Leveraging data from energy efficiency and HVAC systems, air quality and temperature sensors, occupancy rates and weather data, Siemens identified areas for improvement and delivered a comprehensive optimization program for Sello’s building systems that’s focused on energy consumption and air quality. – Siemens
HVAC Efficiency Reduces Water Consumption
Studies by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and the California Urban Water Conservation Council show that HVAC systems in commercial buildings account for up to 48% of buildings’ water consumption. Smart building technologies that aim to make HVAC systems more energy efficient, usually lead to significant savings in water consumption as well.
Facility Executive Magazine sites several examples where data-based optimization of commercial HVAC components like fans, pump speeds and water flow have led to some remarkable reductions in water usage:
- A 400,000 square foot hospital with 2,000 tons of cooling power is saving 742,000 gallons of water per year.
- A 220,000 square foot office building that operates 24/7 with 2,200 tons of cooling power is saving 364,921 gallons of water per year.
- A 500,000 square foot data center with 3,000 tons of cooling power is saving 778,518 gallons of water per year.
Cutting CO2 Emissions
In addition to heavy water consumption, commercial HVAC systems can produce considerable amounts of C02 emissions that directly contribute to global warming. Using Optimum Energy’s data driven HVAC optimization platform OptiCx, the Rockefeller Group reduced annual C02 emissions at its famous Time-Life Building in New York by nearly 3,000 tons, helping to achieve LEED-EB certification.
Smart Buildings Boost Productivity
Smart building technologies can not only create huge savings in energy and water consumption and are better for our environment, they are now proven to increase productivity, shorten hospital stays and directly increase the value of an asset:
A UCLA study found a 16 per cent boost for green companies, and the World Green Building Council says its data shows a productivity boost of 18 per cent. Patients in green hospitals built with smart design have 8.5 per cent shorter stays. And a report from Dodge Data & Analytics says green buildings, whether new or renovated, command a 7 per cent increase in asset value over traditional buildings. – RBC Royal Bank
SNMP Resolves Many Challenges in Monitoring Smart Building Technology
One the most challenging aspects of managing smart building technology is effectively keeping track of the many different sensors, devices and IT systems, often from different manufacturers, that collectively make a building “smart.” Fortunately, SNMP can be used to track events on the network within a building, across a wide variety of devices and sensors. SNMP is one of the most versatile protocols in the computer networking world, which makes it ideal for monitoring a wide range of devices associated with building control systems in one coherent network.
Another significant challenge with smart building technology is that its effectiveness is limited to a building’s own internet connectivity and performance. Many smart features are highly sophisticated and interconnected, often requiring their own specialized network infrastructure, such as high-speed fibre optics, advanced routers, dedicated cooling systems and diverse access points. With decades of development and high adoption rates as the trusted protocol for monitoring computer networks, SNMP can easily monitor the networking gear and control systems that are the backbone of smart building technology.
SNMP Monitoring Simplified with FrameFlow
FrameFlow is designed to monitor a wide variety of network components, devices and sensors, using SNMP, all in one centralized dashboard. FrameFlow is highly scalable and can easily handle tens of thousands of devices on a single install. We’ve also boiled down the entire setup process for SNMP monitoring in six easy steps, automatically taking care of many technical details such as detecting all the interfaces for your switches, routers, sensors and other SNMP-enabled devices, such as UPS’s and PDU’s.
FrameFlow can monitor the output of these devices, such as the temperature or humidity sensors in any given area of a building, issuing targeted alerts via email, sms or phone to the right people on your team, if some component of the system is not working at optimum performance.
We even make customized SNMP monitoring easy, through our point-and-click dashboard, so you can forget about wrestling with OIDs and MIBs and quickly set up monitoring that suits the needs of your entire network.