The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way people run their homes. More and more devices are becoming available to consumers that allow them to automate their thermostats and regulate their power consumption, often-times controlling these systems from the phone in their pocket. Products like the Nest thermostat and the Sense home energy monitor provide homeowners convenient tools that also help save utility costs.
In commercial and industrial buildings, there are similar (albeit far more robust) systems and protocols used for the same purposes called building automation. Building automation is the automatic and centralized control of a building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security, electrical, and other systems through a Building Automation System (BAS).
“Smart buildings” controlled by a BAS allow facility managers complete control over a building’s various systems from a central location. Individual devices are able to communicate with each other and to the central hub and regulate any number of conditions, such as air flow, room pressure, or power usage.
One of the most common communication protocols, BACnet, can now use internet protocol (IP) allowing for much faster device communication over longer distances as well as the possibility of secured remote control from another location.
Industrial Internet of Things
Many hospitals are required to maintain positive or negative pressure in certain areas to maintain patient safety. A BACnet/IP enabled environmental controller, for example, used in an operating room can communicate with the rest of the building’s HVAC system to ensure proper ventilation, temperature, and humidity is maintained in that critical area.
Power meters can also be networked into automation systems. Multiple meters can be used throughout an office building or an apartment complex to measure the power being used by individual tenants. Power meters can also monitor for spikes, which are critical in industrial facilities that operate power-hungry equipment. Facility managers can easily record and interpret data recorded by these devices to reduce the power consumption of their buildings.
While the scope and scale of the technology is different, there are many similarities between consumer-level IoT home automation and commercial/industrial grade building automation. Homeowners and facility managers alike value control, convenience, and efficiency when it comes to running their respective buildings.