Most modern buildings you see today are complex structures with even more complex systems and technology. Over the last few years, each of the components inside and outside the building has been developed and improved, allowing modern-day building owners to select lighting, security, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems independently. More importantly, it is the core building systems (HVAC, lighting, etc.) technology that has materially changed in recent years.
In the last few years, most of the changes have occurred faster than what the traditional real estate support structure such as architects, engineers and contractors were used to. Consider some of the modern-day controls systems and it’s not hard to realise that most of them are run by computer servers, networks and remote access. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, most organisations haven’t integrated information technology (IT) into design, construction and operations and have not subsequently aligned internal departments.
Smart building technology boosts operational efficiency, helps buildings save water and energy, and reduces their carbon footprints, says Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle. These advantages give owners and investors a competitive edge.
Anil Chaudhry, country president & managing director, Schneider Electric India, says, "We believe what cannot be controlled cannot be measured. We have products such as Schneider SmartStruxure solutions that enable an owner to monitor, measure and optimise a building’s performance throughout its lifecycle, thereby saving money.
This solution connects five domains of expertise — power, data centres, process and machines, building management and physical security — within an open and flexible technology architecture that delivers significant savings on capital and operational expenses. SmartStruxure solution software facilitates the exchange and analysis of data from energy, lighting, fire safety and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems. Significantly, its unique, scalable architecture allows seamless integration with existing and emerging technologies."
According to a recent JLL report, pressure to manage costs, risks and energy consumption is pushing commercial building owners and investors to explore how smart building technologies can help a company’s triple bottom line — people, planet, profits.
In terms of elevators, Schindler uses state-of-the-art tools and technology to enhance the planning process:
*Traffic Vision planning: mainly calls for increasing capacity and reducing energy. With Traffic Vision, Schindler enters new ways of calculating the number and position of elevators and escalators in a building, anticipating the energy consumption at the same time.
*PORT technology: Schindler PORT transit management system can help maximise the building’s transport efficiency while offering the most convenient travel for each passenger.
Today’s building owners are looking outside the four walls and considering the impact of their building on the electrical grid, the mission of their organisation, and the global environment. To meet these objectives, it is not enough for a building to simply contain the systems that provide comfort, light and safety. Buildings of the future must connect the various pieces in an integrated, dynamic and functional way. This vision is a building that seamlessly fulfills its mission while minimising energy cost, supporting a robust electric grid and mitigating environmental impact.
Buildings consume approximately 40% of the world’s energy— far more than the transportation sector. Regardless of age, nearly every building—office complexes, hotels, hospitals, manufacturing plants, retail stores—wastes energy. Complicating matters further, buildings, tenants and building equipment represent a complex, interdependent system. Every structure runs differently, even when constructed or run by the same organisation.
At the most fundamental level, smart buildings deliver useful building services that make occupants productive (e.g. illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, sanitation, and many more) at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the building lifecycle. Reaching this vision requires adding intelligence from the beginning of design phase through to the end of the building’s useful life.
Mayur Shah, managing director, Marathon Realty, says, “At Marathon, we use concealed pipes in the buildings made of PVC and another copper pipe within that. We import all this from Germany.
This ensures that in future we can replace or fix the pipes without needing to break a single tile. An entire high-rise building may have 660 toilets and not a single one will leak because each has been tested for cracks and sealed with a special chemical. Besides we conduct ponding tests for slabs.”
A smart building requires connectivity between all the equipment and systems in a building. An example is chiller plant optimisation, which boosts the efficiency of chiller operation by incorporating outside weather data and information about occupancy. Another example is using data from the building security system to turn off lights and reduce cooling when occupants are not present.
Smart buildings go far beyond saving energy and contributing to sustainability goals. They extend capital equipment life and also impact the security and safety of all resources – both human and capital.
They enable innovation by creating a platform for accessible information. They turn buildings into virtual power generators by allowing operators to shed electric load and sell the “megawatts” into the market. They are a key component of a future where information technology and human ingenuity combine to produce the robust, low-carbon economy envisioned for the future.
Dr Prem Jain, chairman of Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), says that the headquarters of Aecom India in Noida is intriguing because nearly every design feature was determined using energy simulations such as eQUEST. Tradeoffs, such as initial cost and model predicted energy savings, were compared to determine which energy conservation measures to implement and how to design the building.
One critical feature is the atrium that spans all levels. This atrium, along with strategically placed windows, provides enough light to keep electrical lights off during the day. Daylight analysis ensured that enough daylight would reach all work areas.”
The other smart and green building is the much famous CII’s Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, which was the first LEED platinum building in India. CII worked with the United States’ LEED system to design the building, but ensured that Indian ideals and design concepts were incorporated. For example, an open atrium at the centre of the building was included in the design, consistent with traditional architecture of the area. This building is also saturated with natural light, so electrical lights are not used during the day. The roof is composed of plants and grass to reduce heat island effect, rainwater runoff, and heat gain through the roof. This green roof not only helps reduce the energy use of the building, but also provides a view and a place for occupants to spend time outside.
Energy efficiency can be implemented without having a negative effect on comfort levels or aesthetics. As India is rapidly constructing buildings, energy efficiency measures should continually be incorporated to decrease projected energy use and increase worker productivity. Each building has its unique challenges and requires a tailored approach, but every building can adopt energy efficient measures.
Smart buildings leverage knowledge that resides outside its walls and windows. The smart grid is an ideal place to start. Electricity markets are evolving toward “real time,” meaning that buildings can receive requests to reduce demand when wholesale prices are high or when grid reliability is jeopardised.
While energy use and occupant comfort are crucial to any organisation and therefore require human involvement in the decision-making, technology will be the key enabler, providing building operators with the tools and information they need to make smart choices.
Chaudhry of Schneider Electric India says, “Any smart city has two components – physical infrastructure and software. That’s where Schneider Electric has expertise in smart city by having both in-house software & physical layer which is hardware. All above mentioned manufactured physical products go in field of new or existing city are smart enough to integrate with software level which is first step towards smart city.
It enables all the fields of Smart City whether it is water, electricity, public services, transportation, etc.”The growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency is encouraging and timely as India’s building growth continues to expand.