Q&A: Connecting the Dots on Connected Buildings

An interview with Vinod Kashyap, Director of IoT Product Management for Atrius™ IoT Solutions at Acuity Brands, Inc.    

  1. How have buildings evolved? 

Historically viewed simply as a place where people congregate or where things are made or stored, buildings first traipsed onto the digital landscape for purposes of saving energy, namely through LED lighting, HVAC-system upgrades, or a combination of both as part of larger building management systems.

Building management systems (BMS) emerged as the first integrated, computer-based solutions for reducing energy costs associated with lighting, HVAC, security, fire, electronics and other building functions. While BMS advanced the solution beyond the inconvenience of an analog approach, results were, and remain, siloed.

Enter the connected building. It moves us an important step or two beyond BMS and provides us with data that’s much more cohesive for making effective decisions. By employing sensors and actuators to monitor real-time activity within the space, the connected building allows building managers to mine and make extraordinary use of data captured from disparate sources and analyzed collectively through intermediary software. The result is a holistic view of how systems work together, including the impact made when one or more components are changed in any way.

Most importantly, in a connected building, enhanced building performance – better energy management, better use of equipment and the space itself, and better productivity of the building-operations staff – is achieved by measured and methodical analyses of comprehensive building data. 


2.     Is a Connected Building simply a better performing building? 

Connected buildings transform and optimize both physical space and business performance.

Maximizing energy efficiency and sustainability is the first important step.  With connected systems, a building also serves as scalable infrastructure used for mining and managing information, and for deploying sensor-based communications technology. You gain valuable access to contextual, location-aware data, plus ubiquitous connectivity to those who occupy your building and matter to your business.


3.     How does a Connected Building add value to the business?

Companies are taking the benefits of “going digital” much further to connect systems and manage their physical space, and/or tap into its process-improving and revenue-generating potential.  The connected building allows building and business managers to capitalize on the evolution of today’s technology-enabled consumer so they stay highly competitive in an ever-changing economy. 


  1. What is the value proposition of a Connected Building?

A connected building promotes strategic engagement and new revenue opportunities. It evolves with changing needs, creating an elevated experience for all stakeholders. And it drives actionable insights and dynamic process improvements, improved occupant engagement and productivity, resulting in better outcomes for both building and business managers.

In short, connected buildings, are responsive to the contextual, location-aware data that they harvest, allowing business or building managers, or the building itself, to monitor and adapt to the relevant needs of building occupants in real time. Whether integrated into one building or across an entire property portfolio, this emergent capability has the potential to differentiate the user experience and even redefine the business model.


  1. What are some examples of applications made possible by a Connected Building? 

Atrius™-Ready luminaires from Acuity Brands feature embedded Bluetooth® Low Energy and/or visible light communication (VLC) technologies, providing ubiquitous connectivity to users’ mobile devices required for location-based applications and contextual spatial analytics.  This allows:

  • Retail merchandisers to delineate shoppers’ browsing habits and aisle-by-aisle product views, similar to shoppers’ online habits.
  • Hospital administrators to learn the average time it takes for a nurse to visit a room after the patient pushes the call button.
  • Travelers to navigate between airport gates or safely stray from their gate before their boarding call.
  • Office workers to become more productive by providing hot-desking capabilities, especially benefitting employees who travel frequently.

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