Energy management is one of the focus areas for organizations all over the world. Not only because improvement actions as a result of energy monitoring can save money, but also because sustainability has become a mainstream business concern and companies are trying to reduce their share in carbon emissions and consumption of natural resources.

Smart buildings as an enabler for energy efficiency

This is where the modern, connected smart building steps in. Smart buildings contain wireless sensor networks that provide real-time utilization data; data which can be leveraged to optimize service delivery, workplace comfort and resource usage. These smart buildings enable new scenarios and can provide energy managers the insights to fine-tune energy consumption at the micro-level.

Analyst firm Gartner sees the Internet of Things as an enabler for energy efficiency and estimates that by 2020 the cross-industry business IoT (connected things used across many industries, e.g. HVAC and building management systems) will be connecting over 4.4 billion devices globally.

How to smarten up your buildings?

The use of sensors in buildings is not new. Buildings have been equipped with sensors for decades, used in HVAC installations and Building Management Systems, to control air quality, temperature, lighting, etc. These were however one-dimensional, closed-loop circuits. The data was there, but it was locked away behind technical barriers, making it hard to use. One could argue that these buildings were not ‘dumb’, but they were not smart either, as they were not able to communicate in an integrated way.

Today, with the rise of Big Data and the Internet of Things, the data that was once locked away in some BMS, is becoming available in real-time through the use of affordable, easy-to-install sensors using performant wireless communication protocols that no longer require expensive cabling. The result? Buildings are starting to talk…

Let’s zoom in on one concrete example to make this more tangible: traditional HVAC sensors are able to regulate and maintain a good room temperature. But if no one is actually using that room, what’s the point? What is missing there, is visibility into related energy usage and space occupancy. By adding IoT sensors (smart meters and occupancy sensors) and a big data platform, an energy or workplace manager is now able to see the total picture and fine-tune energy usage based on measured reality.

Big data, great opportunities

Energy consumption data, combined with data on parameters like temperature, humidity, CO2, but also the number of people in a building or room, generate big data streams that require a different approach to analysis and reporting. Big data platforms, equipped with powerful engines and machine learning algorithms can process all this data and transform it into clear reports and visual analytics, ready to be turned into improvement actions that will make your building portfolio, and your business future proof.

MCS brings smart energy management solutions and a team of energy specialists and data scientists helping organizations to seize the opportunities offered by the business IoT. Contact the team if you would like to learn more about getting from sensors to value.