Need for HVAC Control Drives Intelligent Building Market

A desire for control over heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is one of the most important reasons for the growth of intelligent buildings.

Navigant Research identified several major market issues affecting the trend, with technology, delivery models and customer demand the main drivers of change. Within the customer demand area, HVAC control and optimisation is one of four vital capabilities occupants expect from building management systems.

Unyielding Pressure

Smart buildings collect data about how HVAC, lighting, security and other systems are used, automatically adapting and adjusting settings and timings to maximise efficiency. HVAC systems can account for more than 60% of a building’s energy usage and although the return on investment varies for each building, smart building controls are often estimated to reduce costs by up to a third.

But Navigant’s report – 10 Trends for Intelligent Buildings in 2017 and Beyond – says customers are looking for more than efficiency and cost savings. They expect greater comfort levels, enhanced productivity and an improvement in the user experience.

“The unyielding pressure to be connected is beginning to transform expectations for how commercial buildings are operated,” said Casey Talon, principal research analyst for Navigant Research. “As a result, 2017 is poised to tip the scales for investment in intelligent building technologies.”

The digital evolution of commercial buildings is expected to be driven by three key categories identified in the research:

  • Technology

Although building energy management systems (BEMS) have been around for some time, more recent developments provide greater insight. Data can be used by engineers, the C-suite and staff to improve operations and comfort levels, and customers are increasingly better educated about the solutions available.

Artificial intelligence also has the potential to use real-time information about weather, past trends and occupancy levels to make decisions about HVAC controls.

  • Delivery Models

Changes in capabilities and expectations are affecting customers’ relationships with providers. With real-time data and insight, consultancy and advisor-client relationships are set to become more common, while providers who build partnerships and develop long-term strategies will be more successful than those who focus on retail sales.

  • Customer Demand

The facilities management industry is conservative by nature, but renewed expectations and the need to sustain growth are forcing it to invest in new technology. Building occupants now expect technology to help meet sustainability targets and improve user experience.

According to the research, the most important BEMS capabilities are HVAC control and optimisation, lighting control, scheduling and fault detection. The latter is a vital element of a truly intelligent building, as identifying faults before they have a significant impact will minimise disruption to business.

Satisfying Users

Whether 2017 proves to be a watershed year for the intelligent buildings market remains to be seen, but it’s clear the question is when, rather than if, connected technology will become standard in facilities management, and HVAC in particular.

Dr Hywel Davies, technical director at CIBSE, recently observed: “As digital technology becomes ever more pervasive, it will have an increasing penetration in the buildings sector. The real challenge for our sector is to deliver digital technologies that can satisfy users who are used to technology offerings, functionality and user experience from Silicon Valley.”

To learn more about how connected technology and intelligent buildings could impact your business, contact the 361 Degrees team.

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