IBM Wants to Get In on the Ground Floor of Smarter Buildings

Michael Vizard

It use to be that the definition of a smart building was one that could sense when nobody was in a room and would shut off the lights. Now we're talking about smart buildings that can actually reduce the overall cost of management.


The smart buildings of tomorrow will be able to determine when the air outside is cool enough to be used to chill the water system in the business versus having to expend energy to cool water. The building will also be able to detect temperatures across the entire structure and the number of people in each part of the building in order to adjust temperatures.


In addition, the building will some day be able to manage a fleet of printers by automatically shifting them into standby mode when nobody is on the floor. And finally, the building will send alerts about when various components, such as filters need to be replaced before they fail


According to Dave Bartlett, vice president of industry solutions for IBM Tivoli software, these are just some of the benefits to be derived from the advent of smart buildings. IBM this week signed a pact with Tridium, a division of Honeywell, under which the two companies will work together to build smarter buildings as an element of IBM's overall Smarter Planet campaign.


IBM has established a range of partnerships with the leaders of the building construction industry as part of an effort to integrate all the components of a building, such as the air-conditioning system, with IT infrastructure from IBM. Bartlett says that if IBM can get in on the ground floor on building management, it improves changes that tenants of the building will want to use IBM technologies throughout the rest of the building.


Obviously, reduced energy consumption is the most immediate benefit of smarter buildings. But the ultimate goal is to improve the overall productivity of the people working in the building by increasingly working with sustainability officers dedicated to that task. So don't be suprised if one day soon we not only start talking to our buildings, but they also respond. And if IBM has anything to say about it, your building's favorite color will be blue.

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