Smart versus Smart: Why Smart Buildings Are the Better Choice

[Introduction]The adage “wise is mistaken by wisdom” is widely known, but you must have never heard of “wisdom is mistaken by wisdom”. Because, smart ≠ wisdom, there is a clear difference between the two. As the saying goes, “the wise speak, and the wise listen.” And this also applies to today’s buildings.

The difference between a “smart” building and a smart building is that in a “smart” building, the user will set the system to operate in the way that best suits the user’s wishes. However, smart buildings have the proper sensing and processing capabilities to sense their environment and set themselves up to act correctly according to their own judgment.

What is a smart building?

In the early 1980s, the term “smart building” first appeared in the United States. The Intelligent Building Institution in Washington defines it as follows: An intelligent building is a building that integrates various systems to efficiently manage resources in a coordinated manner to maximize technical performance, increase return on investment, reduce operating costs, and enhance flexibility.

In order to achieve this, the building must have the relevant sensing capabilities to obtain as much information about the external environment as possible when necessary, and transmit this data back to the building’s “brain” (which may be local or in the cloud) through appropriate communication channels, And use machine learning algorithms in the “brain” to process this information and finally decide to act accordingly. And these actions must be communicated to the relevant systems through the same communication path for execution.

The development status of intelligent buildings

If you are unfortunate enough to get lost in the wilderness or stranded on an isolated island, the so-called rule of number “3” will determine your survival. According to this rule, in order to survive, you must find shelter in 3 hours, drinking water in 3 days, and food in 3 weeks, otherwise you will face death. In that case, shelter is the primary condition of survival; while it may not be to get lost in the wilderness at the moment, understanding how people can live by turning to smart buildings is essential for the future of the planet and humanity. important.

Through the process of digitalization, people can realize the intelligence of new or existing buildings. This process converts factors that affect building operations and maintenance into digital signals that can be measured in real time and transmitted back to the building’s “brain” for analysis and management. How to digitize new or existing buildings to improve energy efficiency and sustainability is key to ensuring that humanity reduces its carbon footprint in the future. Therefore, when discussing the future of smart buildings, there are four key areas to consider:

● Health and Safety: Is the space designed to enhance the well-being of its occupants? If occupants feel safe and environmental design helps improve their mood and quality of life, productivity will increase. This is especially important in the post-COVID-19 era, as industries in all walks of life resume work and production.

● Sustainability: Does space utilization meet requirements to reduce carbon footprint? This theme not only improves the lives of building owners by saving energy bills and reducing maintenance costs, but also brings environmental, economic and social benefits to many more people.

● High flexibility: Does the space design take into account future needs and stand the test of time? Today’s buildings are built to last 150 years or more. Even without knowing what innovations or technologies will emerge in the future, it is possible to plan so that a building’s information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) infrastructure can handle the expected data traffic in the future, as more systems come online and When using IP addresses, traffic is bound to spike.

● Economic benefits: Without appropriate financial incentives, implementing change will be difficult. Money is value, and by making buildings smart, that value is made possible. Before reaping the fruits, however, capital must first be invested. Innovative financing models are needed to help building owners upgrade their buildings to smart buildings.

The above four aspects can be achieved through building automation. Today, building automation is largely based on closed and isolated systems that work independently and perform their own functions without affecting or driving other systems. These systems in a building include HVAC systems, lighting, access control, fire safety, elevators, and occupancy detection systems, among others. Isolated systems are mostly inefficient and lead to larger carbon footprints.

Why do you need smart buildings?

Smart versus Smart: Why Smart Buildings Are the Better Choice

Figure 1. Funnel diagram of factors influencing smart buildings

Figure 1 comprehensively displays the various factors that affect smart buildings in a funnel diagram. It roughly outlines the modern ecosystem that drives the demand for smart buildings. First, start with global macro trends, namely urbanization and climate change.

Urbanization refers to the migration of the global population from rural areas to urban areas, such as cities. People migrate to cities in pursuit of a better life. Cities offer job prospects, as well as better access to goods, services, healthcare and education. Population growth has also contributed to urbanization; it is estimated that by 2050, more than 65% of the global population will live in urban environments. It is predicted that by 2060, the floor area of ​​buildings worldwide will double; this is equivalent to adding one New York to the world every month for 40 years.

Climate change refers to changes in global or regional climate patterns, particularly significant changes since the mid-to-late 20th century, mainly due to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels caused by the use of fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency estimates that 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, with the operation and maintenance of buildings alone accounting for 28% of emissions. 3 Disturbingly, it is estimated that 50% of building energy consumption is currently wasted. Building energy consumption and the corresponding CO2 emissions have barely slowed in recent years; this shows that as more and more buildings are about to be commissioned, the environmental impact of buildings will only worsen unless energy efficiency improves.

Many influential think tanks (such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank) are currently focusing on policies aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings, providing incentives for investment in sustainable and smart buildings, and enhancing the retrofitting of older buildings to meet current needs EU sustainability standards.

To meet their climate change obligations, governments have begun implementing the policies suggested by these think tanks. The EU is currently funding a major renovation project as part of its “Green Deal” policy. There are about 220 million buildings in the EU, 85% of which were built before 2001, and 90% of existing buildings will still exist in 2050, a huge base for renovation. The EU aims to retrofit 30 million buildings by 2030. Likewise, the Infrastructure Bill and Smart Buildings Acceleration Act in the US and China’s five-year plan are expected to drive similar initiatives in these markets. 5

Improvements in energy efficiency have been driven by government policy and building regulations, including the upcoming update of the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Likewise, the United States leverages ASHRAE standards to drive regulatory compliance, and specific regulations in other countries are being rolled out.

Buildings with green and smart building certifications are also becoming more common. In some cases this is a requirement for a specific financial investment, but in most cases the consensus is that these certificates bring substantial added value to the building’s earning potential. LEED, BREEAM, and EDGE are all well-known green certificates, and China’s homegrown certification is picking up pace. Smart building certification is still new, but with TIA and UL coming together to form SPIRE, certification will also become more popular.

From an economic perspective, these potential improvements to buildings create added value for healthier, greener and smarter buildings. Research shows that certified buildings in London rent and sell for 4% more than non-certified buildings in the same area.

From global events to the global economy, the shape of architecture is changing, and major building automation companies are taking notice. ADI noted that while the company reported quarterly revenue, it also reported a million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for its customers, while emphasizing the need to build greener, healthier buildings. Building automation companies achieve emissions reductions through massive building digitization and system digitization, extending smart technologies to edge nodes, collecting more smart data, and delivering more actionable insights across multiple building systems, allowing fine-tuning and optimization of each building physical properties to ensure maximum energy efficiency and sustainability.

How to Realize Smart Buildings

Smart versus Smart: Why Smart Buildings Are the Better Choice

Figure 2. Smart Building Infrastructure

Today, most buildings are equipped with a Building Management System (or BMS). As previously mentioned, these systems include specific subsystems that are not interconnected with each other related to the functions performed, ie, lighting, HVAC, access control, etc. Making these buildings smart isn’t a simple matter of rip-and-replace and installing entirely new infrastructure. Because doing so, the cost will be very staggering. The building retrofit market relies on the semiconductor industry to provide technology to enable the digitization of existing infrastructure and to connect disparate building systems. Figure 2 is a good example of how a traditional BMS system can be transformed into a smart building using multiple technologies and communication protocols.

Ethernet is a common protocol that powers everyday life and business with high data rates, but is limited in the distances and topologies it can support. What if you could run Ethernet and IP over a simple cable, say using a single twisted pair that supports a distance of 1 km? This will provide seamless connectivity all the way from the cloud to the edge nodes, merging the IT and OT worlds and breaking down the silos of existing systems where data may be collected but cannot be acted upon and cannot generate value insight.

10BASE-T1L is a key technology enabling edge connectivity; the protocol enables seamless connectivity from the cloud all the way to edge nodes, enabling addressable IP edge nodes, allowing real-time operational control from anywhere. When the network is simplified, installation and maintenance are simplified, data can be easily aggregated and interpreted, and the cost of ownership is reduced with such powerful seamless control that what may have previously only been possible with simple analog sensing functions can now be given to intelligent. Digitizing entire buildings is possible by digitizing the edge and generating more intelligent data.

In 2019, 10BASE-T1L was approved by the IEEE as the 802.3cg standard. ADI is a member of this committee and has been instrumental in driving this new standard. A key element of the standard is the provision of power and data over a single cable at a data rate of 10Mbps. In this case, the cable uses a single twisted pair and supports a transmission distance of 1 km. It is worth noting that existing twisted pair cables can be used when retrofitting inside a building.

Some tangible improvements can be seen compared to some existing infrastructure such as RS-485. First, the data rate remains constant over a 1km range, unlike RS-485 which is distance dependent. Additionally, 10BASE-T1L supports unlimited data nodes, while RS-485 is limited to 256. A core advantage of 10BASE-T1L is that it provides up to 52 W of power over the same single twisted pair, similar to POE (Power over Ethernet), whereas RS-485 is limited to so-called engineering power.

However, RS-485 is known to still have a place in building automation for specific use cases. Buildings will not be fully digitally transformed overnight, so 10BASE-T1L will need to coexist and collaborate with existing systems for the foreseeable future. 10BASE-T1L provides seamless IP connectivity that extends to the edge and works with RS-485 as well as software-configurable IO for legacy architectures.

While the standard provides guidelines to ensure a distance of 1 km, it does not impose any restrictions on the use of other types of cables that may not be able to meet the full distance requirement. The standard allows for shielded and unshielded cables, which means that in most cases, existing wiring systems can be retrofitted. If the problem can be clearly pointed out in the 1 km wiring system, it will have obvious advantages. As any BMS system operator knows, installing, commissioning and maintaining a system that includes kilometers of cable takes a lot of effort. Fortunately, 10BASE-T1L makes this possible by testing compliance, link quality, and cabling installation and maintenance procedures.

in conclusion

There is only one earth, and global warming has caused the extinction of many species. Therefore, the implementation of intelligent buildings is of great significance to reduce excessive carbon emissions. If not handled carefully, the next species facing an existential crisis could be humans themselves. Smart BMSs provide the relevant data needed to help people make decisions about: sustainability and efficiency, communications, building control and automation, workforce health and safety, and security. This in turn improves the health and safety levels, sustainability, resilience and economic efficiency of the construction market.

For more information on Smart Buildings, visit and connect with the Analog Devices Smart Buildings and Infrastructure team.

About Analog Devices

ADI is the world’s leading high-performance analog technology company dedicated to solving the toughest engineering design challenges. With outstanding detection, measurement, power, connection and interpretation technologies, build intelligent bridges between the physical and digital worlds, thereby helping customers re-understand the world around them. For details, please visit ADI’s official website

About the Author

Barry Mulligan is Marketing Manager for Analog Devices Limerick’s Smart Buildings and Infrastructure Division, where he focuses on expanding ADI’s presence in the smart building market. He joined Analog Devices in 2016. Previously worked as a transceiver applications engineer for 5G base stations and as a supply chain planner for RF product families. Before joining ADI, he also worked as a mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer at design consultancy Arup, and spent a year at Windlogics, a wind energy consultancy based in Minnesota, USA. Contact: [email protected]

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