Smart buildings are made possible by these five technologies


In 2015, about 40% of total U.S. energy consumption was in residential and commercial buildings — about 39 quadrillion BTUs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Unfortunately, much of it was wasted: Homeowners left air conditioning on in empty homes, office workers kept equipment and lights on overnight, etc.

We simply forget to turn things off.

Clearly, making buildings smarter, even brilliant, in terms of energy usage would save money, lower environmental impact and allow greater control over infrastructure.

In the paper, “Smart power opens door to more efficient electrical use,” Texas Instruments’ Ajinder Singh and Kripa Venkat explore five key technologies to enable smart buildings:

Intelligent power generation: Using multiple distributed sources — central power stations, wind and solar installations, energy harvesting — to provide energy when and where it is needed.

Data collection: Sensors to detect ambient temperature, light, vibrations, smoke, chemical hazards, etc., coupled to area control and master control units that initiate actions in response to detected conditions.

Analytics: Software that analyzes collected data for operational evaluation, equipment alerts, cost breakdowns and other outputs.

Connectivity: Central wired systems can use the Internet Protocol (IP) to handle large data, but sensing units — often battery powered — require either wireless protocols such as Zigbee, or power line communications (PLC), given the need to conserve power and minimize installation costs.

Compact, low-power hardware: Semiconductor-based solutions for monitoring, communications, control and efficient power conversion are the primary drivers for the development of smart power.

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