September 19, 2021

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Intelligent Buildings – The Future is Now

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Since the Industrial Revolution, architects have been a goal to create buildings and homes that can automatically adjust and respond to the people inside and the environment outside. The best solution are the intelligent buildings.

What is an Intelligent Building?

These functions of these intelligent buildings were initially conceived to make life easier for the inhabitants. Still, over time, advances in modern technology have seen these once dreamed of features become a reality.

After World War II, the rapid growth of suburbia created a boom of homes that incorporated energy efficiency in their design. Then, during the computer age of the late 1970s through the 1980s and ’90s, it became possible to control certain functions of a home through a central, remote location. Today, those energy-efficient building practices are combined with environmentally friendly building materials and techniques and a building management system that reduces energy consumption and improves the quality of life of its inhabitants.

An intelligent building works efficiently to control air quality and temperature, maximizing its clean air output while minimizing the amount of environmentally harmful byproducts. In addition, using as little energy as possible or creating its sustainable energy through solar panels or wind turbines, an intelligent facility can store excess electricity for future use or sell it to the power company to aid in the community’s electrical needs.

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Some new construction materials require minimal cleanup, resulting in less waste for our landfills. Other construction necessities like adhesives and insulation are also being made more ecologically friendly to reduce the number of toxins they once contained.

Part of living or working in an intelligent building has the facility immediately respond to your needs. A facility’s subsystem can learn the lifestyle and behaviour of its occupants and, over time, can react automatically to adjust the indoor environment to their liking. For example, someone who constantly adjusts the thermostat to a specific temperature at bedtime and again when they wake up in the morning can have that action “learned” by the subsystem. As a result, it will work to adjust the air temperature at those times. Even something as simple as having the television turned on when you arrive home can be programmed into an intelligent building. Other more extensive examples include a facility that can sense seismic activity, such as a small earthquake, and perform a computerized structural assessment to compensate for any vulnerability predicatively.

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Building management systems can sense the facility’s movement and monitor temperature spikes (as in a fire or something about to catch fire), chemical leaks, mechanical breakdowns, etc. All this can be done wirelessly, though wifi systems are easily installed and require minimal installation and maintenance.

Advances in technology have made our lives significantly more manageable and allow us to get things done quickly and more efficiently.

 The notion of buildings or homes having a “brain” where it adjusts and responds to the people living in them was proposed in the 1920s by pioneering modernist architect Le Corbusier. However, the definition of an intelligent building or an intelligent home has constantly been changing depending on the available technology of that time and the environment where it is the be implemented so, every time’s new technology is introduced, and you can count on the fact that the definition of an intelligent building or intelligent building will change.

In the 70s, an intelligent building incorporated energy efficiency in its design. This greatly influenced the definition of a smart building, where the home computer can control everything and anything, even from a remote location. From the 90s to the present, an intelligent building incorporates the 80s and 70s definition of energy efficiency and total management of a building plus integrating technology that maximizes its occupants’ efficiency.

Since all of these subsystems contribute to the operation cost, integrating these diverse technologies to create customized building automation is very complex. For example, several intelligent buildings or intelligent homes control the following factors: Manage indoor environment.

  • Anticipate utility costs and electrical demand. The also make use of technology that predicts the weather.
  • Adjust to the needs of building occupants by “learning”. The lights and turn on the TV to the desired channel when the homeowner arrives.
  • This is also sometimes referred to as the nervous system of an intelligent building or intelligent home. An intelligent building can sense seismic and structural integrity and do “predictive” maintenance.

There are also non-energy uses for automation in an intelligent building, like:

  • Tighter Security
  • Giving directions in a building

Intelligent Buildings – Last words

More complex subsystems include schemes with sensors keeping tabs on anything and everything that can be monitored – mechanically, optically, chemically, magnetically, thermally, or even acoustically. And now intelligent buildings with today’s wireless technology, more and more of these systems are linked wirelessly, making the actual implementation elegant and straightforward, a characteristic that Architects and Engineers love.

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