The future of buildings is now: Is automation technology on your city's radar?

Fri, 2015-05-01 06:00 -- SCC Staff

The piece below is excerpted from the ABB Review article "Building better" by Thomas Rodenbusch-Mohr and Anthony Byatt. You can read the full article here.


Constant IT advances, rapid urbanization, climate changes and the rise of alternative energy technologies are four major trends that are driving a furious development of building automation technology.

While intelligent buildings and smart homes were until comparatively recently the stuff of science fiction, they are now a reality and are well-placed to offer the energy efficiency, comfort and security people seek.

Big savings in heating and lighting
The potential for energy savings in intelligent buildings can be well illustrated in the area of heating and lighting.

Lighting is usually one of the single biggest consumer of energy in commercial buildings. However, constant light schemes can reduce lighting bills considerably. In such a scheme, a light sensor measures the natural light level so the controller can top this up with the amount of light needed to achieve the desired lighting level and no more.

Further, a presence detector can be used to minimize the illumination (and heating) in unoccupied spaces. Such schemes can result in energy consumption 30% to 40% below that of a manual light control setup. Similar savings are to be found when shutters or blinds are automatically controlled to reduce heating and cooling costs.

Measure it to control it
Council Lead Partner ABB’s KNX line of products helps make the intelligent building a reality.

"If you want to control it you have to measure it," is an old adage that is very applicable to energy use in buildings. To have any sort of energy optimization, the energy flows in a building have to be understood. ABB’s i-bus® KNX devices do that.

KNX Association created KNX technology, which is a worldwide standard for all applications in home and building control. This technology finds use in applications ranging from lighting and shutter control to various security systems, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, monitoring, alarming, water control, energy management, metering as well as household appliances and audio.

ABB has developed a range of devices for intelligent building control applications that interface via the KNX bus. And they are in use in all types of buildings. For example:

  • In the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, in Italy, a KNX system reduced the annual power consumption by 456 MWh -- which translates into 28% or some $100,000 -- in its first year of operation.
  • In a school in Neckargemünd, Germany, a 525-component KNX setup reduced the energy bill by close to one-third.

Click here to learn more about ABB's building automation technology.