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If the buildings in your city could be smarter, here's one way to do it

Submitted by doug.peeples on February 24, 2016

Commercial buildings consume 19% of the energy produced in the U.S., and the majority of that consumption is by office and retail buildings, healthcare facilities and lodging, according to Council Advisor American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. So when a promising solution for reducing energy use and operating costs comes along, it makes sense for those businesses and their cities to take a close look.

Sustainability is of course a cornerstone of the smart cities initiative -- and for building owners it is becoming an important part of their building operations, along with cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. And city leaders know strong businesses contribute to the health and growth of their cities' economies.

Council Lead Partner IBM and Associate Partner Siemens have partnered on what they refer to as a next generation cloud-based energy management solution that weds software from IBM's Watson IoT Business Unit with the Siemens Navigator energy and sustainability management platform.

As the two companies noted in a joint news release, "Building intelligence is evolving through emerging technologies in cloud computing, data analytics and intelligent field devices -- effectively merging the virtual and real worlds within the built environment. This shift provides an opportunity to transform real estate assets into active contributors to business success."

Some of the features IBM and Siemens say will benefit building owners and operators are:

  • They can use external and internal data on the Navigator platform to benchmark building performance and forecast operating budgets
  • Predictive analytics can be used for fault detection and diagnosis so action can be taken before a problem occurs
  • Text recognition and analytics can pinpoint billing errors on utility invoices and enhance data quality
  • Mobile apps support energy audits and audit reports -- from any location.

"Connected 'things' -- everything from hospital beds, train tracks, cars, buildings and more -- are generating massive amounts of data that can be analyzed to provide quick, actionable insights," said Harriet Green, general manager for Watson IoT, Education & Commerce at IBM. "Siemens and IBM are bringing together deep knowledge of new efficiencies for smarter buildings with advances in cloud-based IoT to transform business and society alike."

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Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.