According to Gartner, the Internet of Things (IoT) will connect 20 billion things worldwide by 2020. IoT uses a network of connected devices – they can be wearables, physical devices, vehicles or any other equipment that are embedded with a sensor and connected to the Internet.
The sensors detect data coming out of these devices that can be used for real-time analytics and take action based on those analytics.
Businesses across all industry verticals are competing to adopt this new technology to capitalize on the opportunities it brings to the table. IoT is being used to achieve various business goals like generating revenue, increasing customer engagement and for operational efficiency.
There is no doubt about the value that IoT brings to the table. Here is the value spectrum as presented by Gartner.
One of the prominent items to note above is to conserve resources and this is most valuable in the energy sector.
Energy efficiency is the number one goal to promote sustainability of energy in the world and to reduce the carbon footprint.
Since buildings represent about 20-40% of the total energy consumed in developed countries, it is crucial that they focus on this primary goal of energy efficiency.
Since the world is entering this new era of using IoT for smart homes and smart city projects, it is evident to use it for energy efficiencies in buildings.
IoT is a very powerful tool in building management systems. IoT utilizes low energy sensors, actuators and network to measure, analyze, monitor and control the systems in a Business Energy Management system (BEMS). With proper implementation of IoT, the buildings can aim to become “smart” and even “green buildings”.
An IoT-enabled energy efficient building has the advantages of low cost automation, monitoring continuous data, data analysis and automatic control of systems.
Let us take a look at how you can maximize the use of IoT for energy efficiency to enhance building performance and sustainability.
Most buildings often have access to aggregate energy consumption data but lack the access to real-time information. The ability to track real-time data will provide the factors affecting energy performance. This also helps in providing abnormal energy factors and help in recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption in a building.
IoT uses sensors to capture energy consumption data as well as factors like temperature, pressure etc. Energy managers and building controls engineers are able to easily visualize these on any smart device.
Data collected will help in understanding not only the level of energy usage but also in implementing corrective and preventive action.
This data can also be used for generating reports to evaluate:
- Consumption of total energy by equipment
- Energy cost per equipment
- Parameters affecting energy consumption (outside temperature, humidity, night time usage etc.)
Below is an example of real-time monitoring from ScienceDirect.
Here is an example of real-time monitoring from Senseware.
Optimize energy usage:
By utilizing IoT to monitor the energy consumption, you can improve the operations of the energy equipment by allocating resources to the actual demand. Smart meters are often used to optimize energy usage and costs. Lighting/heating/cooling can be optimized for peak and off-peak hours.
Since IoT allows you to track data at a device level, you gain visibility into granular data and take necessary steps to avoid wastage. Examples of energy efficient IoT ranges from simple sensors like temperature adjustors to more complex ones like industrial circuit breakers and building automation controllers.
According to John Tuccillo, senior vice president of Global Industry and Government Affairs at Schneider Electric, “By managing the energy usage of devices, cloud-based energy management solutions can understand how each is using energy in relation to its environment. And from there, energy can be controlled so that only the exact amount of energy needed for that device and its intended purpose is used.”
Some IoT solutions in the marketplace offer optimized building space control where real time heat maps of room occupancy are generated and CO2 and temperature is tracked to help with quick response times and easy adjustments .
Traditional data analysis involves data collection, data processing and data storage. With the use of IoT you can adopt more modern uses like Big Data that provides advanced technology of predictive and prescriptive analytics using large volume of data.
This involves looking at behavioral patterns of energy management and historical data from large data sets to plan for future consumption as well as energy-saving measures. It also helps with taking just-in-time improvements, mitigate risks and optimize equipment. You can also develop forecasting models to drive decision-making.
These analytics could be used for reports and dashboards to showcase improvements in efficiency.
You can also use data analytics with the help of IoT to design future systems as well as gather insights of end-to-end processes. This will help building management systems personnel with a better understanding of not only current usage but also future failure points.
This can also be extended for new use case like the case of “Oklahoma Gas & Electric, in a bid to substantially shed load by 2020, is using customer analytics to gain visibility on individual customers’ responses to price signals.”
Smart control of equipment:
One of the ways building energy managers and facility engineers maintain energy efficiency is by turning off lights or adjusting heat and ventilation sometime only for an hour or so to see results in energy savings. By reducing their energy use during peak times, they help National Grid to maintain peak loads as well receive dividends and incentives.
Imagine automating this entire process or using remote access to adjust use. IoT allows you to do that using smart sensors to control individual energy equipment like heating, air conditioning units or HVAC systems. They also allow you to remotely modify settings and other controlling parameters. Automating the equipment significantly reduces the operating costs and provides a huge leap in productivity.
For example, combining real-time data from energy systems along with parameters such as internal temperature and utility prices, you can adjust building energy use while maximizing comfort. This might include cooling the building more in the mornings while reducing energy demand during peak prices in the afternoon.
The Department of Energy, was able to use a simple automated sensor controlled lighting switch that reduced wasted electricity by as much as 30%.
Alerts and Notifications:
Facility managers can receive alerts and notifications on their smart phones, tablets or even smart watches. This can be achieved with the integration of IoT sensors with smoke detectors, temperature controllers and humidity systems along with intelligent rules to detect crossing over threshold levels.
IoT alert systems are particularly useful for alarms that allows for automatic control of safety and intrusion detection.
You can also set alerts to trigger preconfigured actions like alerting the facility managers when actual energy consumption deviates from the expected.
When all the above-mentioned use cases of IoT are implemented for energy efficiency, the building is called a “smart” building. Smart buildings are becoming increasingly popular because they help in reducing the energy costs, increase energy efficiency and also reduce the impact on the environment.
With the growing adoption of technologies like cloud computing and big data, a Smart building is fully integrated in connecting the data from various systems and make it readily available to the end user, whether it is for analysis or for controlling the various energy consuming systems.
Smart buildings have the ability to automatically adjust and conduct preventive maintenance on aging systems. For example, continuous tracking of temperature and humidity levels gives facility managers indicators when the heating and cooling are not working as intended thereby helping reduce maintenance costs as well as providing comfort to the tenants of the building.
Before you embark on this journey of adopting an IoT based solution for energy management, you would need to consider the following 1. The right solution for the size of the building 2. Who would benefit the most from the value of an IoT solution for either a new building or converting an existing building? 3. What is the technology architecture you would implement initially to show your ROI? (Return on investment)
However the good news is that there are many low-power microprocessors and sensors that are available in the market that present a low upfront cost as well as ongoing maintenance, upgrade and operating costs of an IoT solution.
Smart Buildings have clear economic and environmental benefits and will continue to dominate as a goal for energy management.
If you are considering adopting a “smart building” solution, it is important to start laying the foundation of IoT.
Other industries like airlines have already adopted IoT solutions leveraging sensor data for diagnostic and repair purposes. Manufacturers are monitoring real-time performance data to receive alerts when production rates or quality slows down.
Building energy management should not be left behind in the adoption of IoT solutions that provides an easy and efficient way to collect and monitor energy data as well as control and automate the equipment usage. Applying IoT strategies can help you achieve your energy savings goals.