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Smart Buildings: Technology Applications and Use-Cases

Construction Tech Review | Thursday, June 10, 2021

Smart office buildings extend the possibilities to many more use cases, from smartphone-based dynamic booking/release of conference-room facilities and workplaces in open-plan offices to optimum facility management through occupancy sensors.

FREMONT, CA: With increasingly sophisticated automation and control systems that offer cost savings, comfort, and convenience across the board, smart buildings are becoming the ‘new normal.’ Enhanced building automation technologies are providing value-added service features throughout the board, from individual homes and multi-occupancy buildings to educational and healthcare facilities, offices, and corporate headquarters, owing to linkage with IT-based systems and even artificial intelligence.

Such options depend on moving varying quantities of data across buildings and their interior spaces. The required data can be easily gathered and transmitted wirelessly; however, which wireless technologies and standards are best? And how do we go about finding the most effective solutions? The first step is to determine which processes or systems need automation. To begin, list the requirements for room and facility automation on the one side and the requirements for ‘smart buildings’ on the other. The most appropriate wireless technology can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the application and its ‘use cases.’

Individual room temperature control based on human presence and window status; room ventilation and cooling based on air temperature, air quality (CO2 and VOC loads), and humidity; and lighting, where illumination levels can be dimmed when areas are not in use, are all examples of typical room/building automation use cases. Switches in the latter case may regulate individual lights or groups of lights.

Depending on the weather and time of day, the artificial light intensity may be changed to match natural light intensity. Sunblinds and shutters can also be set to automatically darken the room when it gets too hot or let the light in when it gets too cold. According to user requirements and comfort, switches and dials for lighting and external light shading can be mounted anywhere on partitions or walls, according to user requirements and comfort, due to battery-free technology. Handheld remote controls can be used as well. A comprehensive list of automation scenarios for the home is supplemented by use cases covering heat and cooling needs, energy system control, maintenance, and fault reporting.

Smart office buildings extend the possibilities to many more use cases, from smartphone-based dynamic booking/release of conference-room facilities and workplaces in open-plan offices to optimum facility management through occupancy sensors. Meetings that end early and unoccupied workspaces can be detected and modified as required for optimum facility management.

The versatile allocation of employee workspace is allowed by further study of use trends. Underutilized areas can be switched to energy-saving mode, reducing the expense and workload of the heating, cooling, and power plants. A graphical representation of building occupancy–often referred to as ‘Heat Maps’ or ‘Moving Trails’–is used for zone planning. This can be used to optimize workspace size and position and tailor individual workspaces to the needs of the users. Along with detecting people, sensors within the building automation network monitor pumps, cleaning machines, lifts, HVAC systems, and more, then report any dysfunction in real-time for better fault-finding and more effective preventative measures.

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