Building Controls Set to be at the Forefront of Sensored Systems

by Matt Ball on March 23, 2011

Building efficiency is gaining a lot of attention, highlighted by the announcement just yesterday that IBM plans to purchase the facility management software company Tririga. The software will become part of a larger suite of offerings aimed at energy efficiency and optimized space usage. The focus on the bott0m-line benefits is justified by the fact that buildings are generally the second-largest expense on a company’s bottom line, just behind employee compensation.

IBM makes the integrated system argument in their sales pitch:

“Today many facilities managers, real estate managers and C-level executives rely on separate products from multiple vendors to optimize their facility infrastructure, lease administration, utility consumption, space and occupancy, and facility condition assessment. Each product used by different departments holds silos of information, making it difficult, if not impossible, to share across different operating functions. Similarly, business processes that span multiple groups cannot easily be accomplished when those groups are using different products.”

Building efficiency, like smart cities, are attracting a great deal of interest from top IT players as they look to new markets. In addition to IBM, there is interest in the building efficiency space from Cisco, Microsoft, and Google, with building control companies Siemens, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, and Schneider Electric as partners. These sensor and systems combinations drive down energy use and building operation costs, making the investment a first green choice that promises a triple bottom line. Expect to see more acquisitions in this space as its bound to heat up as energy prices continue to rise.

The sensored systems approach is something IBM is far out in front of, and they have a vision of connected systems that benefit from their ability to communicate and respond to changing conditions (read this interview from GreenMonk). The thought is that intelligent transportation meshes with the smart grid, smarter water systems, and smarter buildings. For instance, if a building is on fire, the transportation can be automatically routed away in order to speed response while the building is powered off and water pressure is increased to combat the blaze.

 

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