Buildings That Speak

Buildings that speak

To save energy, sometimes all you need is a translator.

If science fiction has taught us anything, it's that talking robots will enslave the human race.

Talking buildings, on the other hand, are already starting to save it.

As using resources wisely becomes top of mind the world over, there is no shortage of ideas. Broad-reaching awareness campaigns, putting energy-saving tips on electric bills... But one of the most promising ideas came from the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University.

They decided to start solving the world's energy crisis by focusing on what they knew best: buildings.

The team at Carnegie Mellon started with just one campus building, the Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace laboratory.

The key was getting its systems into shape. With that in mind, Carnegie Mellon approached OSIsoft PI System to bring the building’s automated systems under a single monitor. We're talking lights, ventilation, air quality, weather, and security data. They made all that info available in real time to show energy use. But that was just the beginning.

OSIsoft also implemented Power BI for Office 365 to give all university employees a way to see information about the building for themselves, whenever they wanted to.

Imagine if a building could talk about how it was operating and the ways in which it could be more energy efficient.

Letting everyone, not just the monitoring experts, see the building's energy data meant they could all help make the building more efficient. Each person could simply tap to see the building's comprehensive data. Now, when a piece of equipment failed, it got fixed in a jiffy. Soon, the building's energy consumption dropped by one-third.

Taking success off campus.

After their successful project, the school presented a similar energy-awareness solution to a major Pittsburgh bank. According to Bertrand Lasternas, a researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, "The bank was very impressed by the energy savings it achieved using Carnegie Mellon's dashboards and Power BI for Office 365. It was able to reduce plug load energy consumption by 30 percent."

David Doll, the Microsoft Alliance Program Manager at OSIsoft, sees no limit to the use of this technology. In his view, entire communities can benefit from the data-rich approach to energy efficiency: "Power BI for Office 365 can slice and dice across a wide group of assets, combining and making sense of data. Looks you can run the gamut of looking at data from a single building all the way to city-scale."

Thinking bigger.

And Doll isn't alone in in his excitement about how this technology can be used.

Azizan Aziz, Senior Researcher at the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, also echoes Doll's vision for helping entire cities run more efficiently: "With all the data they can access and analyze, governments can precisely target ways to reduce energy consumption."

The ability to talk to homes and offices is here. Soon enough, homeowners and workers alike will be able to pitch in and cut energy consumption across entire cities.

Partner recognition


With installations in 107 countries spanning the globe, the OSIsoft PI System is used in manufacturing, energy, utilities, life sciences, data centers, facilities, and the process industries

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