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Building Internet of Things: 4 Steps to a Smart Facility

Making your building more intelligent sounds good, but what exactly is a "smart" building? Many definitions exist, but essentially a smart building is one that includes a system of dynamically connected systems that can collect, share, and analyze data to improve efficiency, comfort, and overall building performance.

Creating a smart building takes more than just installing Internet of Things (IoT) or smart devices. Such devices must be part of smart systems (lighting, HVAC, security) which are compatible and made interoperable through a common platform. This requires careful planning, design and implementation. Follow these key steps to making your building more intelligent.

1. Technology assessment

Start with a building technology systems assessment that considers facility age and location, computing power, technology infrastructure, and compatibility with IoT technologies. Examine all documentation relating to building design and construction, as well as systems installation and maintenance. Lighting, HVAC and mechanical systems, as well as telecommunications and electrical infrastructure, are critical to the success of a smart building upgrade. A detailed analysis of these systems will determine what measures need to be implemented to improve building intelligence.

2. Establish priorities

Using information from the technology assessment, develop a list of system modifications and smart technology upgrades needed to take your building from where it is now to where you want it to be. Rate these measures in terms of their importance to your smart building upgrade. Review each item in terms of potential roadblocks to implementation. These could include budget issues or technology gaps with legacy systems. Modify your list in terms of those measures that must be implemented quickly and those that can be deferred for future implementations.

3. Develop a plan

Develop and implement a smart building upgrade plan that aligns with the current and desired future state of your facility, as well as your overall organizational strategy. Consider how the upgrade process will affect your budget, operations and your business objectives. A multi-year upgrade plan will allow time for resolving budgetary issues, scheduling for facility interruptions and making modifications due to changing organizational goals and emerging technologies.

4. Design and implementation

Now, it's time to start making your intelligent building a reality. Carefully research and evaluate smart technologies from a variety of vendors. As with any new technology, testing and performance standards for smart systems are in their infancy. It's important to ensure that devices provide the intelligent integration that manufacturer's claim. Also, make sure that smart devices and systems under consideration are compatible with your overall goals and upgrade plan.

By carefully implementing and applying IoT technologies in your facility, you can reduce installation costs in the short-term and maximize building system performance and efficiency down the road. See Smart Controls from the National Institute of Building Sciences for more information. Your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor also can help answer questions about your facility’s energy use. Your electric co-op also offers Power Moves® rebates for qualifying energy efficiency upgrades to your facility. Contact your local electric co-op for details.

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