Sustainable development is the course that has been chosen on the global level by the governments, businesses, and common people. Green or smart buildings are a crucial part of the sustainable transformation because they help to optimize the consumption of resources and make people’s lives more comfortable at the same time.
But in this context, what does the concept of a sustainable building mean today?
Years ago a sustainable building was regarded solely as energy efficient (rational consumption), and capable of providing reuse and recycling.
If we speak about a sustainable building today, we see that now this concept includes a comfortable and healthy environment for tenants throughout the whole cycle of existence of the building. Modern sustainable building is also safe and secure. It might surprise some climate change activists, but a modern sustainable building today must also be cost-effective which means it should be targeted at constant gradual cost reduction.
There has appeared the concept of a sustainable building recently which is based on the three major pillars: Planet, People, Profit.
In other words, a green building is ecologically friendly for the planet, comfortable to live for people and bring profit to the owners.
What are the key driving forces of sustainable building implementation?
Buildings Get Older And Less Cost-Effective
The older the building is, the less energy efficient it will be. Therefore the demand for the optimization of the old buildings making them greener will be rising. It is possible to make meters smarter, improve the level of safety with sensors.
Climate Change Challenge
Several years ago, the countries agreed to declare a war on climate change and reduce the world temperature by 2 degrees. Unfortunately, this goal was not met. Buildings are viewed as the source of 40% of global carbon emissions according to the Global Status Report. Construction is also on the rise so unless the majority of buildings become smarter, these figures will also rise.
Millennials Demand More
Some years ago, the location of the building had paramount importance. Today it’s eco-friendliness, zero carbon emission, and mobility. Millennials, who have just entered the real estate market, want to have familiar control over the building with the help of technologies. And sustainable homes provide them with such an amazing opportunity.
People Behavior Changed
The consumption of resources increased dramatically over the last 50 years. Globalization also changed consumer patterns by disrupting traditional supply chains. According to the National consumer patterns survey, people spend 90% of time indoors so their homes must become even more comfortable.
Covid revolutionized the very concept of the office as we all have noticed. Home offices or anywhere operations could be regarded as a “cherry on the top” years ago, today is an absolute must for any business. Moreover, office buildings should be improved with social distancing monitoring tools, temperature monitoring, accidents prevention, etc.
Thus, it is clear that the time has come for the mass transformation of older buildings into sustainable homes. But here is the question:
What are these sustainable buildings?
It is possible to explain the essence of a “green” or smart building with a formula:
IoT sensors + smart meters + data visualization on mobile/web = sustainable buildings
Let’s take a look at each element of this formula:
IoT Sensors for Smart Environments
First, sustainable buildings are equipped with a variety of IoT sensors that collect the most vital information about the environment and visualize it in a user-friendly way with the help of a mobile/web application. Second, sustainable buildings are equipped with smart metering infrastructure which means that owners or tenants should not do manual reading and get the whole data about the consumption even remotely.
Speaking about the sensors, they can include but are not limited with:
- Temperature sensor
- CO2 sensor or any harmful gas sensor
- Motion sensor for intrusion detection
- Smoke sensor
- Leak detection sensor
- Door/window open sensor
- Humidity sensor
A tenant/a landlord can choose as many sensors for as many purposes as he/she wants to gain an overwhelming level of control over the building. It is also possible to use IoT sensors of various companies and unite them in one hub for more comfortable usage.
Data Accessible in a Comfortable Form
Sustainable homes should collect the most important data about the internal and external environment and visualize it in a user-friendly way to all the parties involved. It can be a tenant of the flat, a landlord or even a utility company. Data visualization should be available with the help of web applications and mobile applications. It’s the 21st century, after all, there is no need to be physically present at some place to know all about it.
As we all know, data is a principal asset today and it is vital to make it accessible and comprehensible. Collecting accurate data will provide insights on it future usage.
Using web and mobile applications it is possible to visualize all the collected data in a comfortable form for a user. We have got used to the fact that all the important information is in our mobile phone and on our laptops. Why should it be different for the data about homes, the places where we spend 90% of our time?
Smart Meters: No more Manual Reading
According to Allied Market Research, Smart meters for electricity, water and gas will be in demand in private sectors for the next 5 years especially in the markets of North America and Canada.
Smart meters collect the data about the consumption of energy (gas, electricity, water) and send it to the hub where it is processed and then sent to users. There are pulse smart meters of the older generation and more up-to-date meters that use the Internet connection for transmitting data.
It is possible to upgrade any meter making it smarter! No need to substitute them in case they were released years ago. What are the benefits of smart meters?
- No more manual reading
- Goodbye to estimated bills and inaccurate data
- More money saved
To conclude, I must say that sustainable homes are already accessible to the world and they do not require huge investments. With IoT solutions, it is possible to make any building more energy-efficient, safer, and cost-effective.
About the Author
Serhii Chernyshev is a Head of IoT Department at Softengi, micro and nanoelectronics engineer with 15+ experience. An IoT enthusiast who has hands-on experience in creating IoT software and hardware solutions for businesses.