Hyperaware smart buildings:autonomous conference roomsof the future

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the United States. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows buildings account for 40% of all U.S. energy use and waste 30% of the energy they consume. The automated building market has traditionally focused on four conventional sectors, such as HVAC, lighting, access control, fire and life safety. An average cost of a Building Management System (BMS) can range from US$2.50 per square foot to as high as US$7.00 per square foot, taking longer to recover the cost and provide a return on investment. 

With the proliferation of IoT devices and sensors, the buildings will be able to listen, learn and communicate with different devices, their human occupants and building automation systems. The use of sensors plays an important role in collecting data to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources. The motion detection sensors and occupancy sensors are providing real-time information on people or objects in real time. This allows organizations to understand which spaces are utilized, when they are being utilized and how they are being utilized so that better planning can be made for space availability, allocation, comfort, cleanliness that can lead to energy, cost savings and increased productivity. The return on investment from applying IoT sensors and analytics can occur in six months to two years with savings in the range of 20% to 25%.

Today, new emerging applications in space management, environmental monitoring, occupant experience, asset management, and cleanliness and hygiene management are being offered.

In this blog, I am focusing on the energy savings and occupant experience from the automation of meeting rooms.

Scenario: Autonomous conference rooms for future smart buildings 

Imagine that a team meeting has been set-up in an organization’s google calendar for three o’clock in the afternoon for one hour. The sequence of events of this meeting and automation steps have been captured in the flowchart below.

Figure 1. Smart conference room automation sequence.

Challenges
Traditionally. building automation systems have been working on schedule centric mode where systems are turned on and off based on static schedules. Post Covid-19, the building occupancy model has changed as hybrid and remote working have played an important role in people’s lives. Therefore, the buildings need to be smarter. For example, if there are 50% of the meeting rooms available on the third floor of the building which can also accommodate the meetings from the fourth floor of the building for the same organization then it may not be necessary to set HVAC for the fourth floor meeting rooms because energy can be conserved by having only third floor’s cooling systems working to provide the desired comfort to the occupants while saving energy for the other floors. 

According to Beecham Research, 70% of global enterprises struggle to integrate their IoT solutions into existing workflows. To get the maximum value from the IoT data, the platform should easily integrate this data with core systems and processes that have run within the business for years. Another important criterion highlighted by Beecham research shows that 60% of the global enterprises who were involved in both successful and unsuccessful IoT projects said they had problems with scalability. 

Solution

The smart buildings are powered with IoT sensors to provide real time information on occupancy of the spaces, temperature and air quality of the rooms, conditions of the audio, visual and lighting systems, etc. The sensors data, combined with contextual data from the IT systems (i.e., calendar, organization’s floor and meeting rooms, etc.), external weather data and tenant feedback can be used to make intelligent decisions 

Waylay’s automation platform provides pre-built components (software sensors, actuators, predictors/ML models), webscripts and integrations to IT systems, which accelerates a building’s automation capabilities very quickly. A conference room automation rule template from the Waylay low-code console is shown below where pre-built sensor and actuator components are used to create workflows and orchestrations with external systems, such as a HVAC controller from Carrier, AV controller from Cisco, and a lighting controller from Schneider Electric.

A sample conference room automation rule template from the Waylay low-code console.

The below smart building software layer architecture shows how Waylay orchestrates with IT systems, building OT systems, building operations and BMS to realize various automation use cases. Typically, the existing BMS or the component OEMs expose APIs to orchestrate (control) with the HVAC systems, lighting systems, fire and safety systems, etc. Waylay’s low-code platform provides a drag-and-drop like designer canvas for domain experts (designers, facility technicians, building operations teams) to create rules very quickly, test, deploy and scale to hundreds of buildings. Waylay reduces the development and test cycles time by almost 10x.

Waylay automation stack integrated with building IT and OT systems

Figure 2. A sample smart building software layer architecture showing how Waylay orchestrates with IT systems, building OT systems, building operations and BMS.

ROI – saving with Waylay

According to Beecham Research on why IoT projects fail, nearly 58% of businesses fail in the IoT projects and only 12% are fully successful. There are various reasons for this failure such as no clear business goals, company organizational issues, technological problems not foreseen and customer/vendor problems. Within the technological problems segment, 70% businesses failed to integrate their IoT solutions into existing workflows and 50% lacked technological readiness. However, with Waylay’s low-code automation tool and pre-built components these issues are overcome very easily.

Below is an example of savings for a customer deploying the Waylay platform as opposed to a fully home-grown solution across 200 buildings.

PoC development effort:

  • Autonomous conference room solution

Customers can do a PoC development with Waylay in 15 person days 

Commercialization effort (additional testing, bug fixing, scale testing, etc.):

  • Additional effort to productize for commercial rollout: 7 person days

Total development cost: 15 + 7 = 22 person days

PoC to Commercialization: Customer rolls out the solution to 200 buildings:

  • Each building requires customization effort: 1 person day (with Waylay)
  • Rollout to 200 buildings = 22 + 200 = 222 person days (with Waylay)
  • Rollout to 200 buildings = (22 x 0.6*) x 200 = 2640 days (without Waylay)
    An efficiency factor of 0.6 is used for customization efforts across buildings
  • Effort savings with Waylay = 2640 - 222 = 2418 days


Assumption: Average cost of developer = $750/ day

Total cost savings for 200 buildings:  2418 * 750 = $1.8 million (with Waylay)

Customers can save a lot of money by choosing the Waylay low-code scalable platform to build and roll out complex building automation solutions such as autonomous conference rooms, energy savings, improved air quality, fire and safety prevention and video security solutions.

Conclusion

To unlock the true potential of the data gathered by IoT devices, they must be integrated into enterprise IT applications. Across hundreds of building integrations with various IT and OT systems is a non-trivial problem. 

Waylay’s automation stack with its pre-built connectors, sensors and actuators, webscripts for data normalization and aggregation, plug-n-play sensor and actuator framework for custom plugin development and the scalable rules engine helps building owners, building solution providers and facility managers to scale their solutions to hundreds of buildings in days without requiring any significant development work. Therefore, the Waylay smart building automation platform helps users to save energy, reduce cost, improve occupant experience and go-to-market very quickly.

About the author

Arabinda Bose is Chief Technology Officer for Waylay North America and has over 20 years’ experience in senior-level roles, such as head of strategy, head of product management and head of engineering, at global telecommunications companies Nokia and Alcatel–Lucent with expertise in security and IoT. At Waylay, Arabinda is focused on creating innovative technology strategies and customer solutions in the areas of digital transformation and IoT to accelerate Waylay North America’s business in the enterprise and telecom sectors.