Are Smart Buildings Taking Off?

April 3, 2013
Energy management makes sense for the large commercial and industrial markets. Image (c)

Energy management makes sense for the large commercial and industrial markets. Image (c)

Smart building and smart building technologies appear to be gaining favor among building owners.

IDC Energy Insights announced new preliminary survey data this week showing that 50 percent of the respondents reported that they use Smart Building technologies today, with another 33 percent stating they would use smart building technologies in the next six months or year.

Of the 291 building owners surveyed, 57 percent reported that their companies currently have sustainability goals that they will be striving to reach. Of these respondents, 86 percent use efficiency or energy management as a metric for success in reaching these goals.

IDC says spending on smart building technologies is up as well. Respondents indicated an average spending increase of 18 percent since 2011 for solutions in the top categories of HVAC controls, lighting controls, and analytics/data management.

The survey data is a component of recent research conducted by IDC Energy Insights’ Smart Buildings Strategies research advisory service that examines the costs and benefits of new energy management solutions and their positive effect on the bottom line. The company will present survey data on this topic during a complimentary, one-hour web conference: “Why 2013 Will be the Tipping Point for Smart Building Technology Adoption,” on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 12 p.m., U.S. Eastern time. The event’s lead speaker, IDC Energy Insights senior research analyst, Casey Talon, will lead a discussion on the cultural realignment necessary for Smart Building technology adoption from the perspective of government, commercial and corporate real estate leadership. Register here.

Hurdles Still to Clear

Of course widespread barriers still exist to implementing smart building technologies and energy efficiency initiatives in general.

According to a recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report, “Overcoming Market Barriers and Using Market Forces to Advance Energy Efficiency,” a 2010 National Academy of Sciences Study estimated that energy efficiency technology that exists today or is likely to be developed in the near future could lower projected U.S. energy use by 17 percent 20 percent by 2010 and 25 percent 31 percent by 2030.

As the ACEEE report indicates, getting the necessary information about energy use, for instance, in the hands of building managers as well as homeowners remains a huge hurdle. As we wrote in a previous post, many building owners still don’t have access to utility interval data of the electricity use. And disclosure laws may not offer all the necessary data, either.

In addition, many facility managers are faced with budget issues that prevent investments in smart building technologies, and others fear loss of staff with the implementation of building automation and energy management solutions. Financing energy efficiency improvements remain a challenge.

Convincing management of smart building investments and corporate sustainability officers’ efforts to get other managers on board is often a struggle as well. And even more affordable data analytics that can perform virtual audits of buildings may not flush out all a building’s efficiency needs and may need to be backed up with on-site audits and ongoing monitoring.

But as the IDC report indicates, interest in smart buildings and implementing sustainable technologies is on the rise and represents tremendous market opportunities.

You may also like:

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Big Data, Internet of Things Will Improve Efficiency and Profitability

Where Is ‘Big Data’ for Building Energy Headed?

Using Data Analytics in Zero-Touch Building Energy Assessments

Billions Available in ESPCs for Gov’t Energy Efficiency Projects

3 Key Strategies to Advancing Sustainability



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