Smart Building Systems: Using Automation & the IoT to Go Beyond Tactical Energy Management

February 20, 2017

In 2011, the major U.S. retailers, Nike, Kohl’s and Michaels, were deep in implementing strong measures to reduce energy consumption and limit their carbon footprint. With time, more companies have moved toward green, sustainable management of energy consumption through the creation of smart building systems. Let’s take a closer look at what these systems are and how the Internet of Things (IoT) is contributing to them.

What’s the Problem With Traditional Tactical Energy Management Programs?

Traditional tactical energy management programs have many rewards, including a better understanding of peak energy levels and generalized energy consumption statistics. However, these systems often focus on general information, such as the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity used each day. On the surface, this means companies might be inclined to limit power usage on Thursday afternoons as an example. However, where does the energy use during that time truly come from?

Click below to download The Evolution of Intelligent Buildings in Retail by Navigant Research white paper.


What Are Smart Building Systems?

‘Smart building systems or solutions’ are terms used to describe companies and buildings that leverage the power of the Internet and machine-to-machine connectivity to improve operations. Smart systems track more than the number of kilowatt hours used for a building or account. They can track the energy used for specific systems within the company or in specific circuits, contributing to the more cost-effective use of HVAC systems across the entire facilities portfolio.


Connected devices are commonly referred in the IoT, but how they translate into better operational efficiency is not always clearly defined.

Think about a newer model car. It can alert you on the dashboard if you need an oil change or when brakes appear to be wearing out. However, if you do not drive the car regularly, you might miss these updates. However, some car manufacturers, such as Lexus, have developed apps that automatically connect the vehicle’s information reports to owner’s smartphones. This information is further sent back to respective Lexus dealerships to update owner profiles or issues along the way.

The process works in a similar fashion in modern smart building systems.


How Quickly Are Smart Building Systems Growing?

Smart building systems are expected to reach a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent by 2020. More importantly, machine-to-machine connectivity applications within Smart buildings will be valued at more than $1 trillion by 2020. Paired with more than 50 million connected devices, 19.5 percent of all buildings in the U.S. will be taking advantage of the IoT to drive automation and efficiency in the next three years, reports

How Does Automation Through the IoT Aid Smart Building Systems in Business?

Automation is being leveraged across all industries, especially those involved in the manufacturing, retail, and logistics sectors, to generate actionable information to reduce inefficiencies and limit expenses. Depending on the business applications being deployed, energy management as part of smart building systems is poised to save companies millions, if not billions, explains LNS Research.Additional key benefits of automating processes and energy controls may seem less obvious.

For example, every automated system represents another aspect of the business that does not increase the workload for employees. Consequently, the risk of errors or other issues is reduced. Furthermore, automation has been shown to enhance the overall energy efficiency (OEE) of companies that have previously implemented IoT-based controls.

Putting It All Together

Regardless of opinion or political affiliation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy and watchdog groups are continuing the push to create a more energy-efficient, sustainable future. In fact, the EPA is still offering clean energy incentives to companies that invest in energy-efficiency measures. Clearly, smart building systems are the future of commercial business in the U.S., and now is the time to act.

Click here to download the The Evolution of Intelligent Buildings in Retail by Navigant Research White Paper.

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