WHAT MAKES A SMART BUILDING?
There is no real definition or a standard for smart buildings at the moment; however, a smart building typically utilizes automation control and intelligent devices that make managing the building more efficient. Smart buildings provide fundamental elements such as comfort, light, and safety that can be remotely accessed and managed.
WHAT ARE THE GOOD EXAMPLES OF SMART BUILDINGS?
A good example of a smart building is The Hive (Hall de l’Innovation et Vitrine de l’Energie) in France. The Hive integrates Schneider Electrics technical solutions and services relating to the smart management of a building and optimization of the user value. What makes it more interesting is that the building was like any other ordinary building, yet with the injections of Schneider Electric’s latest technology, it has transformed into a building with cutting-edge capabilities.
In order to optimize the management of the Hive, Schneider Electric has designed all the systems in the building to “communicate” with each other. All the building systems share the same architecture, and they are all managed by a shared control system.
The Hive is also equipped with Schneider Electric’s BMS continuum which enables integration of all systems – HVAC control signal, video surveillance, access control, intruder detection, electricity and heat meters – through a shared IP4 network.
In terms of security, the Hive is equipped with three security solutions from Schneider Electric:
- Access control – A regulated and monitored access system of electronic gates and electromagnetic badges, controlling authorized persons’ access to different sections of the Hive was installed.
- Intruder detection – The building has a range of security features (alarms, security barriers, video, etc.)
- Video surveillance – A system of 45 Pelco6 cameras (fixed and moving) equipped with night vision capability was also installed. Thanks to digital technology, video surveillance can be used to display, record and, if need be, use images sent from these cameras.
HOW DOES IT BRING A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE TO THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY?
The benefits are quite substantial. Organizations that own their own buildings could reduce their energy cost with a building automation system while increasing the overall comfort and safety of the building, which in turn could improve the employee morale.
As to the developers, they are fully aware that tenants are attracted to buildings with comfortable temperature and lighting, elevators they don’t have to wait on forever and which are not out of order all the time. With a smart building, the tenants could turn on their air conditioning for 10 minutes before they get home, for a perfect temperature from the moment they arrive, draw the curtains or tell the elevator their floor, using the voice recognition instead of the access cards.
All in all, smart buildings are typically more comfortable and safer, and this is a major differentiating factor for the properties and the prices they command.
Schneider Electric could help any developer achieve this goal by providing the infrastructure for property developers and property owners for managing their building portfolios, more effectively and efficiently, whether they are residential or commercial.
Building and resident owners not only get to save their money, they also improve the environment and the quality of living within those domains.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN CREATING A SMART BUILDING?
Most of the developers have the “hard-sell” way of selling their properties, which means they are keen to see the profit flowing in quickly with less investment made to the buildings. This is why it can be hard to convince them to invest in smart solutions that will create benefits in the long run.
At Schneider Electric, we explore different engagement models with developers, such as showing them the case studies from around the world, working on pilot concepts and test projects together and so on.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF SMART BUILDINGS IN MALAYSIA? ARE THERE ANY?
Currently, there are existing smart buildings in Malaysia such as the Telekom Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers but there is still room for improvement. Petronas Twin Towers, for example, received the touch of cutting-edge intelligence from Schneider Electric. It is equipped with energy management systems, security controls, energy and carbon dashboards, and active energy controls that not only could manage energy consumption but provide better security control as well.
As we move forward, that touch of intelligence will not only need to revolve around the building but it will have to cover the interaction between buildings and the spaces between the buildings. In the future, the technology will need to make the journey between buildings much simpler and more comfortable as well as the communication between people in those buildings too.
For major Asian cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, mobility issues are obvious when it comes to compact building spaces within the metropolitan area. With greater interactions between buildings, moving around the areas and cities will be a breeze.