Is your building smarter than a 5th grader? How about the toy your child is playing with, or the smartphone that you check constantly throughout the day? The quick answer is simply, no. We trust the software updates on our phone, knowing it will make our device faster and better – but when can we apply that thinking to buildings? All around us technology is advancing at rapid speed, but buildings are not keeping up.
Don’t get me wrong, buildings are going through transformations that implement new technologies which help us be more proficient and prolific in supporting our facilities. Even with these improvements, there is a shortage of professionals that can service and run a building. New technologies are needed to allow a building to autonomously enhance the human experience by automatically adapting to the behavior of the occupant. Just imagine, a building that provides comfort, improves productivity, reduces energy consumption, and will automatically reach out and engage when it does need human expertise. At that point, will I want to know the 50+ things it does during the day? I put my trust in the building because everything is running efficiently and notifies me when something is wrong. At the end of the day, we are trying to get to the result quicker and save a few bucks while we’re at it.
A building is a living, breathing, ecosystem. When designed, it is built precisely to spec with the correct equipment to function efficiently. As time passes and we humans change the space inside, this previously perfect building is no longer being used for its initial intention. Serious problems can occur when the HVAC system no longer functions efficiently with a reconfigured floor plan, allowing the building to become 'sick'. It’s not the building's fault that these changes occurred. It will take time to learn the new layout and fix itself – that comes with our help in providing the tools it needs. An example is knowing the time of meetings and how many people will attend to set the ideal temperature and lighting. The more buildings learn the more autonomous they will become. This will allow occupants to spend less time and resources running the buildings and focus on what is important.
What do you think? Are you ready to trust a building that 'thinks' for itself?