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The future of energy efficiency: automated buildings and smart homes

The future of energy efficiency: automated buildings and smart homes

The push to develop more energy-efficient buildings is underway, and it's taking several forms at once. Individuals hoping to save on their power bills and implement intelligent, comfortable systems throughout their houses are gaining new options. Owners of apartment buildings and other large-scale structures are also seeing the potential of more advanced and affordable devices.

Sometimes, one single tech advancement can have a marked effect on energy usage — for instance, the shift to LED lighting represents massive power savings over traditional light bulbs. On the other hand, change can also be incremental, with a variety of new tech innovations leading to newly discovered efficiencies, such as more powerful heat and humidity sensors triggering automatic thermostats with greater precision.

By taking a closer look at the state and potential of smart building automation, every group can move forward confidently, from the teams developing new solutions to the people implementing them in their homes and commercial properties searching for energy savings.

What's the state of the art in smart building efficiency technology?

The core idea of efficiency-promoting smart building technology has existed for years now. The general concept is to use internet-connected devices to control systems such as lights, heating and air conditioning to promote more cost-effective energy use.

The technology has seen several mainstream breakthroughs, with smart thermostats becoming especially popular among homeowners. As an extension of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart home systems represent a strong economic and environmental proposition — invest in new technology up front and be paid back by efficiency savings over time, while consuming fewer non-renewable resources.

Steady expansion: lower costs and wider reach

Since the initial debut of smart home sensors, perhaps the most notable development has been a gradual reduction in the cost of acquiring new sensors. Devices to detect temperature, humidity and more are now more affordable to produce and procure. This means buildings that were not previously connected can now become smart at a reasonable price, and systems can contain more sensors for greater precision.

IoT features are also rolling out into more types of devices than ever before. Early developments such as smart lights and smart thermostats have been joined over the years by home security systems, door locks, refrigerators, dishwashers, televisions and others.

More comprehensive smart building systems, with additional systems able to react to real-time readings from sensors, are giving residents greater control over their living environments, along with extra efficiency gains.

Advanced options: new possibilities for energy independence

Beyond the standard development of IoT and smart home devices, there has been parallel work on systems that will make buildings more independent from the power grid entirely. These include on-site generators and solar panels, which can significantly reduce a structure's power needs.

As more advanced technologies become available and affordable, they're expanding from small-scale consumer applications to use in the commercial space. The effort required to outfit a multi-tenant building with smart devices is considerably greater than for an individual home, demanding centralized solution hubs and countless sensors.

The overall growth of smart building technology and energy efficiency presents an opportunity for building owners to improve their financial health and for developers to thrive by creating new solutions in this high-demand space.

What are the best practices for smart building development?

In some ways, developing hardware and software for smart buildings and IoT spaces is the same as developing other commercial applications. Many of the developers' priorities, such as creating high-quality user interfaces and delivering effective quality assurance, are the same. Still, there are also unique considerations when working in the building automation space.

The following are a few of the key concepts to keep in mind when pursuing a development project targeting the smart building space:

Treating smart building system development as a specific type of product creation allows teams to focus on the most important priorities facing them. The end result of such a focused development process can involve high-quality equipment and software that's ready to become an integral part of automation solutions in the future.

What's next for building automation and energy efficiency?

While the field of smart building automation has evolved considerably in the past few years, its overall arc is far from finished. As new technological trends and capabilities become available, developers are finding ways to integrate these elements into their IoT projects to improve overall capabilities.

For instance, the rapid increases in the sophistication of artificial intelligence algorithms could have major consequences for the smart building automation field. AI-based innovations include:

In addition to the development of new and advanced device capabilities, the next few years will likely see more widespread deployment of smart building sensors in general. Especially in the commercial sector, this expansion is heavily tied to new construction.

The amount and sophistication of sensors needed to connect a full apartment complex or other large commercial building make it hard to install such a system in an existing structure. New construction, on the other hand, gives owners a chance to make their properties smart from the start, setting themselves up for an energy-efficient future.

Empower your smart building tech development efforts

It's an exciting time to be involved in the smart home automation and IoT fields, as these technologies expand in terms of reach, accessibility and sophistication. If you're delving into this industry or are already involved, it's worth embedding best practices into your efforts to ensure you stay competitive amid the sector's rapid evolution.

One promising way to build a best-in-class IoT development pipeline is to work with outside experts, whether in a limited consulting capacity or with fully interconnected teams. Trancenda's professionals can guide your internal team members to success, modeling a fully developed set of best practices that have been honed over the years.

The principles of design-driven development, hands-on use of the resulting products, and close alignment between various functional teams are embedded into the way Transcenda experts work. An engagement can help your own developers and designers stay in tune with the cutting edge of the smart technology space. Contact us to learn more.

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