Built Environment: Page 5 of 10

Wed, 2015-10-28 22:49 -- Jon DeKeles
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Built environment targets

To this point we’ve defined the built environment, discussed how cities can influence their buildings and highlighted the benefits of smart buildings. We’ll conclude by examining the technologies and best practices that can bring those benefits to your city.

We presume that you’ve already read the Universal chapter, which explains the targets that apply throughout a city. When it comes to the built environment, those universal goals are sufficient – there are no additional building-specific targets.

For convenience, you will see a checklist at the end of the chapter that lists the universal targets. Below we point out refinements to several of them that demonstrate their relevance to the built environment.

Instrumentation and control

Buildings that use smart devices to monitor conditions like water use and heating and cooling can capture data that building managers can use to make better decisions about managing resources.

Implement optimal instrumentation. You’ll want to keep several things in mind as you determine optimal instrumentation for buildings.

For one thing, don’t think that building instrumentation simply means a smart meter. You can now remotely monitor almost any building condition – occupancy, light level, air quality, temperature, etc.

For another, you will want to distinguish between existing and new buildings. In existing buildings, you want to take full advantage of any sensors or switches that are already present. Fortunately, companies are starting to make software that can talk to legacy equipment from many different manufacturers. It is usually much less expensive to find a software “overseer” than to rip out old instrumentation and replace it with new.

When it comes to new buildings, you can be more ambitious. It is much less costly to put state-of-the-art instrumentation into a new building than to retrofit it into an existing building. Thus, as you plan the city’s building codes and incentives, you can raise the bar for new buildings as compared to old.

This is an area that will require holistic thinking and collaboration between departments and between outside stakeholders. For instance, the electric power utility may want smart meters, thermostats and appliances to adhere to communications protocols. Likewise, the fire department may have requirements for fire alarms and smoke detectors. Obviously, the city’s codes and recommendations should be compatible.