Today IBM announced a new software product that promises to markedly improve the efficiency of buildings by giving real time information on performance and problems. The software is a group of analytical tools that can detect when anything in the building’s systems are out of whack and pinpoint the issue — think of it as always having a bedside doctor so at the moment a building gets sick, it can be treated right away. Since buildings make up 40% of all of our energy use, and consume 70% of all electricity generated, the Intelligent Building Management software can make real inroads for energy efficiency in an industry that has a lot of catching up to do.
The “smart building” software has 18 tools which analyze how the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems or HVAC-R are working, things that can account for half of a building’s energy usage. The program can tell when humidity, air quality, light levels or temperature are out of whack and if the equipment is efficiently maintaining comfort. Building maintenance will immediately get information if something is out of calibration or is broken and thus wasting energy rather than waiting for the tenant to call or the energy bill to arrive in the mail.
In the past, specialists would perform retrocommissioning to get this information and agents would typically be called to inspect mechanical elements one by one, hopefully every couple of years to pinpoint problems. Now much of that work promises to be done in real time. This is not only good for the bottom line, but the software helps maintain comfort and well being for building occupants.
IBM has implemented the software at its Rochester, Minnesota campus, tweaking 3 million square feet to maximize efficiency. They have also announced the use of the Intelligent Building Management software in Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval art collection to maintain indoor environmental quality and the century old Richardson Memorial Hall, Tulane Universities School of Architecture to test the product in challenging existing environments. Using hundreds of wireless sensors which measure many environmetal characteristics the software models the building in real time, fine tuning equipment and spotting trends which could indicate problems. Who knows, maybe in the future the “B” in IBM will stand for Buildings.
Photograph Paulo Barcellos Jr via Wikimedia Commons