Moving the dial on climate change with smart buildings - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

Moving the dial on climate change with smart buildings

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With deep expertise in customer and partner engagement in the field of IoT, Kirsten Walker, Principal Program Manager, Azure IoT Business Acceleration team, leverages that experience to help accelerate digital transformation in the areas of Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. Kirsten works alongside Azure IoT Engineering to ensure that our strategic customers and partners have direct access to the Azure IoT resources and technology to enable innovative and impactful IoT offerings in the market.

According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—after more than 150 years of industrialization—deforestation and large-scale agriculture, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are at record levels. Many governments have committed to preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2° Celsius (or 3.6° Fahrenheit) above what they were before industrialization. However, the ultimate goal is to reach “net zero” emissions, meaning that we must remove as much carbon as we emit each year. Where do we start?

Digging into the data from the UN’s 2017 Global Status Report tells us that buildings and construction account for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Addressing building and construction-related emissions is a good place to start.

Figure 1 Buildings and construction account for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

In its 2017 Global Status report, the United Nations recommended ten priority actions to transform the buildings and the construction sector. The priorities included the following:

  • Increase the rate of energy efficiency in existing buildings
  • Improve energy management tools for buildings
  • Ensure new buildings use less energy

One approach to decreasing energy use in buildings is applying the Internet of Things to create smart buildings.

The potential of smart buildings

Smart buildings deliver useful building services—heat, light, high quality air, security, sanitation, and more—at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the building lifecycle.

The International Energy Agency estimates that smart buildings can save 230 exajoules (EJ) in cumulative energy through 2040.  This would lower global energy consumption could be lowered by up to 10% (according to the UN’s 2017 Global Status Report).

Additionally, developers can design new smart buildings to use less energy. Specific measures include the following:

  • Enable daylight harvesting
  • Support passive heating and cooling
  • Optimize air flow
  • Ensure indoor air quality

Let’s look at how Microsoft partners Bosch, Bentley Systems, Schneider Electric, and L&T Technology Services are using Azure IoT in smart buildings to decrease energy use.

Colleagues meeting in a conference room
Figure 2 Human factor design of new buildings can help decrease energy requirements.

Bosch enables energy savings

One of Bosch Group’s divisions, Bosch Building Technologies, offers solutions and services for building security, energy efficiency and building automation. Bosch Building Technologies created the company’s Energy Platform built on Microsoft Azure. The Energy Platform is a web-based tool to monitor and analyze energy consumption in real time.

Bosch customers use the Energy Platform to connect IoT devices to what they want to track and then link existing meters, sensors, and machines. It reads, transmits, and analyzes the data. Then customers can make informed decisions to improve energy and resource efficiency. Bosch offers the solution to customers and uses it internally at more than 100 manufacturing plants worldwide. At one of the bigger plants, the company saves up to €1.2 million (approximately USD1.3 million) a year through energy efficiency measures.

Bentley Systems and Schneider Electric provide tools to decrease energy use

At Microsoft’s Frasers Tower in Singapore, Bentley Systems and Schneider Electric implemented sensors and telemetry to create a connected workplace. Data is collected using a mix of 179 Bluetooth beacons in meeting rooms and 900 sensors for lighting, air quality and temperature. The platform generates nearly 2,100 data points that are stored and analyzed in Microsoft Azure. Using the data, Microsoft can identify opportunities to decrease energy use.

Figure 3 Sensors generate data that is stored and analyzed to decrease energy use.

Additionally, Bentley Systems built a digital twin of the Fraser Towers on its Bentley iTwin platform—using Microsoft Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Hub and Azure Time Series Insights. The iTwin platform uses both historical and real-time data from IoT sensors to create an exact replica of the building. Fraser Tower facility managers use the digital twin to monitor energy consumption, air quality, space occupancy, and temperature throughout the office. Staff use insights from the digital twin model to further decrease energy use.

Operating with 100% renewable energy

L&T Technology Solutions (LTTS) worked with a Fortune 50 customer to build a flagship smart building running on Azure with over 14,000 sensors for lighting, temperature, ventilation, occupancy, parking, and more. Together, these sensors deliver 50-100 terabytes of data every day with over 60,000 different input fields. With the LTTS solution, the customer can bring together all the data needed for their smart building operations. Leveraging Azure IoT Hub and Azure Stream Analytics, the building management system accumulates data, processes it, and uses AI to make decisions and automatically adjust systems for optimal results. The results are impressive: the customer has seen an energy savings of 40% and a 70% reduction in water usage, and the building is able to operate on 100% renewable energy.

Next steps

Smart buildings that leverage IoT technology are one way that countries can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more about best practices for planning environmentally and socially responsible smart building projects. Download the whitepaper, Smart buildings: From design to reality, co-written by Microsoft and L&T Technology Services.


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