Building Intelligence: What it is and Why it Matters

When was the last time you lost a set of keys or your wallet? When faced with this situation, many people wish for a tool that would identify the unknown location of their lost possessions. Similarly, many building operators want a tool that identifies the location of unknown problems within their buildings. Building Intelligence tools are here to help!


What is Building Intelligence?

Building Intelligence covers a wide range of tools that help building operators and supporting technicians identify and resolve issues within a building. These tools can be referred to by multiple names, including fault detection, building analytics, continuous commissioning or energy management. Depending on their scope, Building Intelligence tools can monitor building usage, diagnose faulty equipment operation, identify systems that are not working as designed and recommend energy-saving measures for the building. The tools can range from as simple as a warning message regarding regular maintenance for a piece of equipment to a complex artificial intelligence system recommending systematic changes for a more efficient operation.  These tools can be a part of the building’s control system, a cloud-based product, a third-party solution or a mixture.


How does Building Intelligence help buildings?

Building owners and operators benefit from Building Intelligence tools in multiple ways. First and foremost, Building Intelligence tools raise awareness about the operation of the building. Building owners can monitor building operation via key performance indicators (KPI’s) and can make management decisions based on these metrics. Building engineers and operational staff can monitor equipment trends and historical data, allowing them to make operational decisions based on the findings.

Building Intelligence tools can also help reduce the time for building operational staff to identify issues within the building’s systems. The tools can help staff understand which building problems can be addressed in-house, and which problems may require expert assistance. The analytics tools can help guide troubleshooting efforts to the root cause of an issue, instead of implementing a quick fix to solve an issue. The tools may also uncover underlying issues that the operational staff may not be aware of including issues caused by the building occupants not requesting maintenance or building system problems.

The Building Intelligence tools can also identify energy optimizations. These optimizations can vary from simple setpoint adjustments to complex system performance recommendations. Although these insights may not be as thorough or as applicable as expert-guided system optimizations, building owners and operators can still recognize energy savings by evaluating or implementing the energy recommendations.


What are some considerations before implementing a Building Intelligence solution?

As there are many Building Intelligence solutions available on the market, a few considerations should be made before implementation. The building management staff should be aware of and comfortable with the tools that they will be using. Several solution providers offer multiple optional modules, such as energy meter monitoring, HVAC fault detection and occupant counting, so only the applicable modules of what the building management staff can monitor should be selected. Some Building Intelligence tools require the building management staff to dive into the equipment to identify issues, while other tools may automatically provide insights to the building operators. The building management staff should be aware of their role in the Building Analytics solution before it is implemented.


How can I get more out of my Building Intelligence solution?

Building operators should follow a regular schedule of checking equipment in the Building Intelligence solution (not just when tenants complain or when faults are raised). Operators should be cautious of “false alarm” insights, as too many can dilute the perceived utility of the platform.

The Building Intelligence solution can also be valuable when paired with professional expertise. Service technicians can use the platform to troubleshoot a variety of issues and building management staff can learn from experts about the meaning of certain messages. Although Building Intelligence tools should never be a replacement for routine maintenance, the tools can be instrumental in the proper operation of buildings, especially when used to their full extent on a regular basis.


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About Lloyd Anders


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Lloyd Anders works with the Energy Services group to develop and implement mechanical system optimizations for existing buildings, particularly in healthcare, research, and industrial applications. Lloyd specializes in data analytics and helps the Energy Services team to streamline technician investigation and to analyze building performance.

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