The smart building of the future, already today

Technologies like IoT and AI are crucial to help us advance to the buildings of tomorrow. This tour shows on what I envision a workday to look a like

Today we spend almost 90% of the day in buildings, in our workplace, our leisure area and our home. Staying inside to practice self-isolation for the last month during this challenging time has made me more aware of my time inside and made me think about how smarter buildings can make our life in the future fundamentally easier and help improve comfort and efficiency.

Technologies like IoT and AI are crucial to help us advance to the buildings of tomorrow, providing spaces that respond intuitively to our requirements and adjust automatically to our individual demands. Sensors are comprehensively installed in buildings, opening a range of possibilities ranging from lighting, HVAC systems and physical security systems.

Let me take you on a tour on what I envision a workday to look like.

It starts with entering the building: every user is identified via facial recognition. Matching the stored data, the building can then identify the ideal workspace and reserve it for on the calendar. The person is then guided to the destination with the digital and intelligent system. During the working day the sensors adjust the working environment to each user: Light, oxygen content and temperature are adjusted, based on the experiences of the personal preferences from past working days. The building always learns and optimizes the building automation actions according to your personal preferences and behavior. Welcome to a learning building.

We can also rely on the building to evacuate us as fast as possible when necessary. In case of an emergency the path guidance system takes over the sign posting of the escape routes. The escape routes are supplied with oxygen while simultaneously oxygen is withdrawn in the parts of buildings that have already been evacuated. This is thanks to the intervention into the ventilation control.

With the growing awareness of sustainability, energy efficiency also plays an important role in smart buildings. In the future our buildings will operate self-sufficiently and use an efficient energy management system to control the flow of energy by using regenerative energy from one’s own solar system or wind park. This process reduces the CO2 emission of the building. The e-vehicle fleet is charged via flexible charging stations that know the charging volume required due to the link with the calendars. Precise battery charging loads and forward-looking reservation of charging stations guarantee a balanced load management. A great example of a building with self-sufficient energy is ABB’s lighthouse project “Mission to Zero.”

These technologies help users, owners, operators and facility managers interact with the buildings of the future effortlessly, with personalized comfort and maximum efficiency. And with AI and the IoT constantly evolving, the possibilities for smart buildings in the future are endless.

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About the author

Alexander Grams

I’ve been working for ABB since 2001 and currently lead the marketing communications team for Smart Buildings, which is part of the Electrification business. I studied engineering and business economics but my real passion is marketing and sales. I love working for ABB and have spent time in different roles in Spain, Finland and Germany. I currently work at ABB’s Busch-Jaeger facility in Ludenscheid, Germany.
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