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Real-World Scenarios: Democratizing Smart Buildings with IoT

In “Democratizing Smart Buildings with IoT,” we talked about how the advent of powerful and cost-effective Internet of Things solutions has opened up the realm of connected technology to small- and mid-sized buildings — a benefit that was previously limited to large commercial sites.

Smaller spaces and smaller budgets are no longer a barrier to implementing a smart building solution, with a new generation of IoT devices such as sensors, thermostats, and different types of lighting control solutions driving the cost of data and device management down to only a few cents per square foot. Now owners and managers of smaller buildings can boost efficiency and get insight into building system performance.

Now we’ll share a couple of scenarios in which we implemented Altair SmartWorks™ solutions to turn smaller facilities into smart buildings.

Connecting a Special-Needs School

We worked with a special-needs school in California to help the facility manager get insight into after-hours energy usage and optimize building HVAC performance. They were on a tight budget but wanted to reduce operational costs and ultimately create a better learning environment for their students.

Before getting started, they didn’t know how their assets were performing or if those assets were running efficiently. They had no insight into off-hours energy consumption, which they believed was contributing to higher-than-average energy bills.

The solution was to implement the cost-effective Altair SmartEdge™ IoT platform and install several multichannel energy meters, a submeter, and connected, programmable thermostats that enabled to school to pinpoint higher-than-expected consumption on non-working days and after hours. They then assessed factors that could be causing the problem.

As a result, the school was able to reduce off-hours energy consumption, optimize equipment usage, and create comfortable conditions for everyone in the school.

With its IoT system in place, the school now uses pre-set thermostat schedules to regulate the classroom environment and data analysis to make smart decisions. Off-hours energy consumption is down, and the building’s HVAC equipment is operating more efficiently than ever. Most importantly, students are in a comfortable environment and staff members are free to concentrate on their primary mission — education.

Making Commercial Real Estate Smart

Another project we undertook was for a Canadian commercial real estate management company. A community college was one of its larger tenants, and the school operated extended hours to serve its class schedule. All tenants were billed utility costs on a per-square-foot basis, as is typical with small commercial buildings, and as a result the smaller tenants with standard business hours were paying for a portion of the college’s energy usage.

The lease was due to be renegotiated and the building owner wanted to submeter the school so they could understand their actual energy use and negotiate a different cost model. There had also been two leaks that led to flooding in the previous 18 months, which resulted in around $175,000 in damage and increased insurance premiums. They wanted to prevent that from happening again.

We used SmartEdge and low-cost sensors to accomplish these goals, including installing 42 wireless leak detection sensors in bathrooms and near water coolers, a sensor in the parking garage, and a valve on a main water line that could be shut off if a sensor triggered as part of the rules we created in the platform. We also created setbacks on the thermostats. This implementation resulted in fair and balanced billing for tenant energy consumption, in addition to over 22% in energy savings.

With SmartEdge and connected technology, the real estate management company is seeing a higher ROI than a traditional building management system could offer — plus more applications, more data, and more flexibility.

Now with an optimized HVAC workload, fair tenant billing, less risk of flooding, and the potential for reduced insurance premiums, this connected building is set to efficiently support tenants well into the future.

IoT for Real-time Building Control

With IoT devices installed, you have a smart and connected building with real-time control of thermostats, lights, and discretionary loads to optimize your building’s performance and maximize your investment. Having sophisticated sensors, alarms, and thresholds for out-of-bounds conditions means you can get ahead of problems before they become critical.

Learn more about these scenarios and about connecting small and medium-sized buildings in our on-demand webinar