Smart Building Energy Management Systems Yield Cost Savings
Proactive building managers also now use data to run trend reports, Atlantic Westchester’s Hammer said. Through configuration and utilities and software, a building manager can collect data from a smart meter:an electrical meter with a digital component that connects to a building energy management system and identify the exact kilowatt consumption in real time.
Consequently, building owners can avoid utility demand charges if they can start and stop equipment intelligently and according to conditions, he said.
“You can look at temperature trending and the humidity content in a building, comparing it to outdoor weather to optimize when to start and stop an HVAC system,” Hammer said. “Or the building management system can figure that out for you with an algorithm. A properly networked building . . . makes it a lot easier for a building owner to manage as far as an energy efficiency point of view, which converts into dollars saved.”
S2A Modular, a manufacturer of electrically self-sustaining, custom luxury buildings based in Palo Alto, California, builds commercial buildings that glue all smart building technology together, said Ryan Leusch, S2A’s business development director.
“There are three pieces,” he said. “It’s the [energy] generation — meaning solar, wind, even hydro, whatever the renewable energy generating sources are. Another piece is the management. We’re setting up all the technologies and combining all the controls, say from the HVAC, [the lighting], into one app, rather than telling a commercial building’s IT company, ‘Here’s your technology. Here are the manuals. Now go figure it out and set it up.’”
Then machine learning can analyze the data collected by the sensors connected to the IoT devices, such as the runtime of the HVAC system, and artificial intelligence (AI) can apply these insights to enhance energy management.
“As your AI learns and we look at our logs and we look at our referencing of what’s happening in your building,” Leusch said, the company can make recommendations. “We’re going to . . . make sure that you’re on board and understand what this data, what the analytics is telling us you should be doing. This is going to save commercial buildings exorbitant amounts of money just on the energy costs alone.”
But even as building owners and managers turn to IoT-enabled smart building energy management and help them save money, there’s one issue that is still overlooked – security, Leusch said.
“Everything in the world is hackable and you can be sure somebody is hacking a commercial building and messing with everything,” he said.
As an example, a couple years ago, Nicole Eagan, the CEO of cybersecurity company Darktrace, told attendees at a London event about cybercriminals who hacked into the systems of an unidentified casino via an Internet-connected thermometer in an aquarium in the lobby of the building.
The malicious attackers exploited a vulnerability in the thermostat to gain access to the casino’s network. according to Eagen. The attackers could then access the casino’s database of high-rollers and pull 10 gigabytes of data across the network, out the thermostat and into the cloud.
Darktrace began monitoring the network , and it identified the unusual activity associated with the fish tank’s thermostat almost immediately.
“So you’ve got to put up every firewall you can,” he said. “You’ve got to secure every device every which way but loose. I think security is an overlooked aspect that people really need to start paying attention to.”