The answer is most likely not and this is because the technologies needed to build, or retrofit, buildings to make them smarter are still in their early stages of development. But there are lots of reasons to begin thinking about your building’s future now to be ready for the coming paradigm shift toward healthier and safer smart buildings.

Who doesn’t want a future of green environments replete with clean air and crystal-clear water powered by sustainable energy such as wind and solar combined with new technologies optimizing every component of our communities to create a lifestyle that is healthier, happier and more carefree than at any time in the human history?

There are two clear paths to cutting commercial building carbon emissions. One is by cutting energy demand. This can be achieved by optimizing the building’s operating systems for maximum efficiency by connecting them with sensors to the Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT]. The systems are analyzed by algorithms that provide the building operator with information known as Big Data. Operating deficiencies can be instantly identified that can be addressed before they become big maintenance issues, or worse the systems shutting down altogether. The other path is to adopt renewable energy sources to supply the building’s energy source, such as wind and solar. The ultimate smart building with have IIoT connectivity and renewable energy.

New technologies can have a much bigger impact than just making buildings smarter, they will make cities smarter, as well. The equalization of opportunities for everyone no matter their current economic status will benefit. Other benefits include connected educational networks where students can take remote classes from most any college or university remotely, smarter housing for cleaner and safer living spaces, and smarter office buildings to work in that are comfortable and secure. The scale of societal benefits is almost unimaginable that we will unfold in the future.

We are on the precipice of a new beginning that can reduce our carbon footprint to the point of neutrality and even carbon negative. Conversely, we may instead choose to respond to one crisis after another, continuing down the same wrong path to a hotter climate where life literally withers away or is washed into the oceans by rising tides.

A technology known as Power over Ethernet [PoE] although not new has undergone a significant evolution in recent years. For years, PoE cables were utilized to connect telephones to land lines and to connect computers to the Internet for two-way data transmission, downloads and uploads, for sharing information, or big data

Today, PoE cabling can be employed to connect enabled devices within our homes, and office buildings, and all other manmade structures. One of the reasons PoE is one of the keys to a future of smart cities is because PoE can now carry greater loads of electricity making it more than just a way to connect smart devices. PoE operates on DC power and structured to actually power devices such as LED ceiling lights and this alone can cut the power demand for lighting by more than 75% over fluorescent lighting connected by alternating current [AC].

Knowing this helps one understand the future potential of PoE technology. By cutting power demand, building owners will also cut the operational costs of maintaining their buildings. This can no longer be ignored. And, it’s only the beginning as more and more devices become connected to the IoT.

Furthermore, PoE does not carry the risk of electric shock that AC does. No one has ever been killed due to DC shock because its power can barely be felt even when holding its bare wires. It is less expensive to install than AC power lines, does not require a certified electrician to install it, it lasts longer, it is less of a fire hazard, and it is virtually maintenance free. All of these represent huge savings in energy demand and maintenance compared to conventional AC wired lighting, which provide no data transfers. One could say it’s just dumb to think that AC is the way to connect things today.

As PoE technology advances, the more DC power it will carry which means that it will supply enough power for even the most power-hungry machines and equipment from refrigeration to HVAC systems. Soon, every appliance and device in a home and the office will be powered by PoE.

The world’s millions of existing legacy buildings are responsible for 40% of the carbon in our atmosphere. These buildings can be converted to PoE cabling transforming them into smart, carbon neutral or negative structures providing healthier and safer environments in which to live and work.

It is predicted that future population growth will be greatest in and near big cities. As these cities grow, they will expand vertically with more and more people living in high-rise buildings This makes it imperative that the world’s legacy buildings become smarter.

Is your building smart enough?

Glen Bowen  —Copyright 10.2.2020