Cognitive buildings are becoming more commonplace as technology evolves, giving facility managers tools they need to better manage a buildings' energy and operations while also creating more positive experiences for their occupants.
Utilising the Internet of Things (IoT) to better anticipate the needs of a workplace, cognitive buildings are also often able to reduce carbon footprints in different ways, such as reducing energy consumption in spaces that aren’t in use.
Where automation was the beginning of the process to remove the need for human involvement in simple tasks like lights turning on lights or temperature being adjusted, this wasn’t necessarily intelligent, the focus was on being automatic. This change was to enable facility managers to able spend their time on problem solving and optimising buildings, with less time and effort spent on more menial tasks.
Cognitive buildings aim to take technology beyond that automated processes, with a more complex and integrated approach that looks at building procedures and provides actionable insights. This combines the use of detailed facilities management capabilities and cognitive computing to promote better managed buildings. Making buildings more intelligent can save on energy requirements, optimise space and improve security and safety, while also enabling personalisation that adapts to each occupant’s needs.
One of the biggest challenges facility managers often face is seeing that energy systems in place are operated in an efficient manner, reducing their carbon footprint and saving on costs. This includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning, which needs to be monitored closely. A study from the ACEEE has shown that a smart building with integrated systems can realise up to 30–50 percent savings compared to existing buildings that are otherwise energy inefficient.
Space optimisation is also key; it’s important to help companies use their offices effectively, through technology that can monitor and track high volume areas and help facility managers understand just where they might make meaningful changes. This extends further to the use of car parks as this sensor technology expands, driving a greater understanding of usage.
Smart buildings bring virtually endless possibilities to the table that are expected to encourage more adopters in the future. The implementation of AI is expected to move beyond systems currently in place, with preventative maintenance and fault detection excelling at analysing data from various systems to better identify anomalies and inconsistencies, before targeting a diagnosis. AI is also expected to be able to optimise building operations to improve tenant comfort, by integrating mobile apps and wearables to help tenants interact directly with buildings so that adjustments can be made by the technology.
Enhancing customer experiences and interactions continues to be key to helping businesses thrive, with personalisation proving to be an important piece of the smart buildings puzzle. Digital services and apps are expected to be able to personalise the learning experience for employees. Other features including implementing voice-enabled commands into products using IoT enables the ability to better process information and convert it into many readable systems. The future holds many viable solutions that are expected to continue to help modernise and optimise businesses like never before.
Looking at the ways cognitive buildings communicate with their occupants is not only recognised as incredibly important, but also provides the needed interfaces and organic structures for enhancing Cognitive Districts and Cognitive Cities on a much wider scale. Enhanced usage data of optimised buildings can help to develop a portfolio or district plans to assist with long-term sustainability. Additionally, this could include the integration and linking of emergency procedures between buildings, preparing or triggering appropriate procedures in the wider district.
Advancements in technology are expected to continue to make cognitive buildings more intelligent and adaptive to the needs of their occupants. With so much useful data to be captured and utilised, facility managers can use future developments to their advantage, giving them more insight into the energy usage, space optimisation and other efficiencies that can positively impact their operations.
*Wayne Kent is general manager for Asia Pacific Service, Honeywell Building Solutions