Smart city buildings can be low-carbon and healthy if built correctly

In the last decade, the developed world has started to embrace the advantages that digitization can bring to how we view engineering, manufacturing, and infrastructure developments. This fourth industrial revolution, the digital revolution, has indeed revolutionized how we approach the world around us.

Digitalization has removed the boundaries to thought and allowed unfettered imaginations to create what only 20 years ago would have been deemed impossible. Digitization now permeates every aspect of life, from the way we work, to how we live and communicate. And even more importantly, digitization and emerging sensor technologies are helping to create healthier environments around us.

By utilizing sensor technologies coupled with analytics, it is now possible to shape newly built developments so that we can optimize energy use, provide the transportation requirements relevant to the contemporary world, and ask the difficult “Ëœwhat if’ and “Ëœif we’ questions in future scenario modeling.

To help answer some questions surrounding the future of these innovations, arbnco partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Arc to hear from experts from a wide variety of roles in a round-table discussion. The results of these discussions are featured in the just-released 2020 Challenges of the Built Environment report.

One vital aspect of the report that stood out centered around the importance of energy programs that touch upon the human experience, as opposed to focusing simply on reducing energy use and cost.

There is a perceived conflict between the desire to achieve energy cost reductions and the need for a healthy environment in terms of temperature, air quality, and contrast of light and shade. Getting the balance right is where the real value resides.

The internal environment should create a relationship between an environment for people, the preservation of the building fabric, and the search for alternative sources of energy to power the assets in the face of global climate change. The value spectrum thus created is where long term sustainability resides.

Understanding performance on items such as lighting, security, and HVAC control can significantly shape our environments to enhance the health and wellbeing of building occupants. Behind this technology is data analytics, which improves building functionality on multiple levels. And by working to implement smart city initiatives, planners and utility companies can work together to improve building environments.

As part of a larger smart building initiative, utilities should feel motivated to implement sensor technology that focuses on wellness. Not only is this an attractive measure to operators and residents, but sensors are used in a broader picture of building operations and work alongside modeling and real-time solutions. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that to drive maximum value from managing the Built Environment in the digital age, a strong and complementary partnership is critical. The partners should incorporate architects, construction entities, facility managers, energy providers, and a data sensing and application partner. To this can be added investors and the system integrator. All have a role in creating a healthy and low-carbon environment that is part of the energy transformation that climate change is demanding.

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Brian leads Strategy and product management and arbnco's North American operations. He is a senior energy executive with 20+ years expertise in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Energy Resources program design, operations, and business development. He has defined services and software go-to-market solutions with executive decision makers, strategic partners, regulatory & policy thought leaders with extensive stakeholder outreach.  Brian has a demonstrated track record forming deep strategic relationships and driving industry leading market innovation.

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