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Design model smart buildings

A Design Model for Smart Buildings

Commissioned work: Appeared first on chess wise

(…) What strikes us in particular is the complexity of platform integration in Smart Buildings. Building owners seem to have invested heavily in the deployment of sensor & control networks, smart systems and web-enabled technology over the last years, yet in practice these investments hardly live up to their projected ROI because these systems proof very hard to integrate on a platform level and fail to perform efficiently. This is because most technologies are still developed and deployed as if they operate in a silo.

Design Model for Smart Buildings

This inspired our colleague Wim Hogenhout to develop a model to design Smart(er) Buildings from an integrated perspective

The Design Model for Smart Buildings consists of three layers and considers the user as its starting point.

  1. Sensor layer (yellow)

The first layer looks at the environmental parameters that affect the health, well-being and productivity of the user: e.g. temperature, humidity, presence, noise, light and C02 levels. These parameters determine the variety and deployment of sensors that will need to communicate data to the building’s applications and systems.

  1. Application layer (grey)

The information (data) which is obtained in the sensor layer can be applied by the applications that control and manage a building’s conditions, assets and operations; e.g. its air quality, lighting schemes, security and maintenance planning.

  1. Economic layer (purple)

The third and final layer regards the systems that monitor the performance of the smart building and give insights in its KPIs, such as the productivity and health rate (sickness absence) of the building’s occupants, the fluctuation in its energy use and its operational costs.

The Design Model for Smart Buildings makes it easy to consider the interdependencies between the layers. This improves insights in the required network architecture to achieve certain objectives. It also gives insights in the choice between single-purpose networks and multi-purpose networks.

Depending on the purpose and the projected lifecycle of a building, we would advice you to consider the difference between multi-purpose and single purpose networks. Every single purpose network delivers an extra system layer, where as a multi purpose network can be regarded as one platform, managing many systems in one network. (ref: smart building platform ‘How it Works’)


Single-purpose network -> No integrated performance management

In a building in which systems and applications run on separate networks, one sensor can impact just one application at the time. Such a network architecture cannot take interdependencies in account. Example: The temperature data serve only as input for climate control systems. We call this a “single purpose network” for climate control. Such an architecture may limit the control of the buildings performance significantly.

Multi-purpose network -> Integrated performance management

In a “multi-purpose network” the same sensor data can be used for multiple applications (purposes).  Example: Temperature data are also used in applications that monitor the well-being and creativity of people and deliver comfort. Another example: A presence sensor delivers data to actuators in the lighting systems, blinds, the climate system, the cleaning schedule and the security systems.
A multi-purpose network takes relevant interdependencies in account. Therefore, a multi-purpose network allows for better control over the performance of the building, than a single-purpose network.

IoT networks unlock new ‘As-a-Service’ Business Models.

The rise of IoT networks create another big advantage. It unlocks data with which to develop new business models in line with market developments.
An upcoming trend, which only just got started, is the demand for ‘As-a-Service’ Business Models. Businesses don’t want to possess and maintain assets which are not directly related to their core-business. For example, companies don’t want to invest in lighting installation, they would rather choose ‘Light as a Service’ propositions. This affects the ownership of assets in buildings. For example, lighting assets remain the assets of the manufacturer and/or supplier, whom are now the beneficiaries of sustainable product life cycles. This suggests that the manufacturers or installers would need to monitor their assets remotely. IoT networks in Smart Buildings enable this, they allow for remote access to asset management data for any stakeholder, such as manufacturers – for product innovation – and the installer – for predictive maintenance.
Again, multi-purpose networks offer more value with regards to As-a-Service business models than single-purpose networks, because they can monitor the effect of interdependencies, reflecting a more truthful presentation of the environment in which assets operate.

If multi-purpose IoT networks are the holy grail, then how to resurrect them from their complexity?

Despite the advantages, there a very few “multi-purpose” IoT networks which live up to their expectations. This is due to a huge variety in (proprietary) communication network protocols (wired & wireless) on the market, requiring numerous interfaces to integrate different network topologies and protocols. Most multi-purpose networks, which projected great ROI’s on paper, end up to deliver huge complex systems that at central level (building management systems) are almost not manageable.

Solution for multi-purpose networks

What if only one sensor and control network could serve all of the building’s actuators- lights, blinds, hvac etc? A network which needs no hubs, gateways, routers, interfaces and modems to scale up and requires no investments in (re) wiring. In concept, we are talking about a multi-purpose wireless mesh sensor & control network which communicates seamlessly with a flexible (agile) cloud based building management system.

If you look at the current range of network protocols and building management systems on the market, it shows that the development of a scalable, multi-purpose network, which connects to an equally flexible building management system, is not an easy task.

As a smart building must adapt itself to a changing environment, this should also apply to the network, applications and management of the building.

Chess Wise envisioned this challenge during the first IoT hype at the beginning of this millennium, and has – since then- invested over 10 years in the development of MyriaMesh, a mesh based, multi-purpose, wireless sensor and control network. Our cooperation with MetaFactory, a supplier of back office development systems, ensures the communication with an agile back-office system which is, like MyriaMesh, ultra-flexible and can be easily refactored to meet changes in the use and the applications of a building. Together we provide a total solution that can handle the dynamics of a smart building.  (ref: smart building platform ‘How it Works’)

We hope this approach helps you transcend the complexity.