The pressure to reduce operational costs and meet sustainability goals has been the impetus for companies to look to greener buildings for answers. Reducing energy consumption, controlling maintenance costs, and improving the comfort of buildings are the overarching challenges companies face. Layered on top of this are the tightening regulations around energy efficiency and growing sustainability expectations. Companies also face escalating pressures from stakeholders. More than 9 in 10 business leaders say consumers will likely hold them accountable for their environmental impact.

For new construction, these challenges are somewhat alleviated by evolving smart building management solutions bringing new, exciting green materials and building automation systems to market. However, existing buildings face different challenges, namely around their aging infrastructure and potential hardware upgrades required to capture and visualize data at the appropriate level of detail. But as a global automation software developer, ICONICS understands these challenges and has the knowledge and expertise to guide and help property owners with their buildings' digital transformation and feels that regardless of the age of a building, any building can become a smart building.

Why Smart Buildings Are Good for Business

Five years ago, Gartner was predicting smart buildings could reduce operating costs by up to 30 percent. A company like Intesa Sanpaolo shows us what this prediction looks like in practice. Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s leading banking group, embarked on a project to improve its real estate operations and facility management as part of its sustainability goals. Leaders wanted real-time visibility into HVAC and other systems in buildings to drive data-based decisions. ICONICS created an intelligent building management solution that combines onsite measuring and monitoring technology with the Microsoft Azure IoT platform and Azure AI solution.

Commenting on the economic impact, Giorgio Colosi, Real Estate and Facility Senior Director for Intesa Sanpaolo, reported, “In the first six months, we demonstrated annual savings would total 500,000 euros. If we see similar savings in other buildings, we can save about two million euros each year, and the project will pay for itself a year in advance.”

Smart buildings like Intesa Sanpaolo’s rely on high-performance building automation solutions. These solutions tie together all aspects of operating a facility. The mechanical, electrical, water, security, and other systems feed real-time data into a unified operations center that monitors and controls the entire system. Operations managers see exactly where the resources go, how they are used, or if a failure in the system impacts energy use. Software works to find opportunities to reduce demand and inefficiencies.

These building automation and management systems not only reduce operations costs but also increase sustainability efforts in quantifiable ways for organizations. A smart building is also a greener building.

Sustainability Impact of Building Automation Solutions

The technology that creates smart buildings helps organizations better visualize their impact on sustainability. Each organization approaches sustainability differently.

For example, Mitsubishi’s SUSTIE building houses the company’s IT R&D and focuses on accelerating the development of ZEB-compliant energy-saving technologies. It’s a single four-story building built in 2020. The SUSTIE team uses an ICONICS platform to control building operations and validate their own stringent resource usage goals. It is not a complex system.

In contrast, a conglomerate like Enova represents a large-scale, very complex deployment of buildings automation. Enova is an energy and facilities management enterprise that provides water, waste, and energy management solutions to companies across the Middle East. By deploying resource management tools across its portfolio, Enova has achieved total savings of 320 million kWh of energy, 5 million cubic meters of water, and 210,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Its work was recognized in the Microsoft 2021 Environmental Sustainability Report. Enova is currently working with ICONICS to deploy automation systems across some of their sites.

How ICONICS Simplifies Complex Building Environments

By integrating every endpoint sensor in buildings, operations gain visibility on how to maintain peak performance. ICONICS IoTWorX supports industry-standard protocols so building automation solutions can discover and gather data from a wide range of devices. It can connect virtually any automation equipment.

Data from disparate sources is collected and sent to the cloud via an IoT gateway where it is integrated, contextualized, analyzed, and filtered into useful visual information. Because it is a cloud-based system, data can be accessed from anywhere at any time via collaboration portals and configurable dashboards.

Data is key in driving energy efficiency since it can be used to identify resource patterns, trends, and behaviors. For example, Intesa Sanpaolo could not understand an energy use anomaly in one of their buildings. Heating the building in the mornings caused an unexplainable but noticeable energy drain. Building analytics identified a mechanical issue that was causing the ventilation system to continually blow cold air throughout the building. By comparing historical data to real-time information via the energy dashboard, operations quickly identified the faulty component.

Partnering for a Greener World

Building automation systems are only as good as the companies that build them. Microsoft is a leader in cloud and edge technologies. Intel delivers edge-ready computing, connectivity, memory, and storage technologies. Together, Microsoft Azure and Intel IoT are enabling intelligent solutions that provide turnkey edge-to-cloud solutions through The Intelligent Edge. ICONICS, a seven-time Microsoft Partner of the Year, is a recognized building automation specialist with solutions in 70 percent of the Global 500 companies. Added to this combined technology expertise is the history and commitment to sustainability by all three partners.

Regardless of the age of your buildings, ICONICS can create a building automation system that creates smarter and more sustainable buildings. Learn more about our partnership and see how we’re helping to transform buildings to be smarter and greener.