Smart Building Solution Enhances Energy Performance, Says Johnson Controls

Improving the energy and operational performance of a building can lead to cost savings, and it can be accomplished as simply as turning off the HVAC over the weekend or installing low-flow toilets. However, to achieve maximum performance or to make a building smart requires the integration of multiple components.

That’s according to energy service provider Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), based in Milwaukee, which recently announced a partnership with Armonk, N.Y.-based software behemoth IBM (NYSE: IBM) to provide a multi-pronged smart building solution.

“The smart building solution integrates real-time energy, environmental and operational data into a common database, enabling several building and portfolio management tools,” says Clay Nesler, vice president for global energy and sustainability with Johnson Controls. The management tools include automated diagnostics, energy usage analysis, occupancy tracking and monitoring, as well as work order generation and data visualization.

The offering builds on an existing relationship between Johnson Controls and IBM formed in 2007 to create energy efficient data centers. The companies have not yet signed clients for the new offering. However, Nesler points out that a recently completed project for the state of Missouri shares many of the same characteristics of the joint smart building solution.

According to a case study of the project, in 2005 Missouri decided to reduce the energy consumption of its 32 million sq. ft. real estate portfolio by 15% over a five-year period.

To achieve this goal, Johnson Controls developed a program that connected various management systems that included utility bills, building automation controls, energy, business process and capital planning, and a portal system for remote monitoring.

State saved $35 million

By integrating individual systems and buildings at the user level, operational activities in the various subsystems could be monitored to detect inefficiencies, which could then be corrected. The program resulted in annual savings of more than $35 million across a portfolio of 1,000 state-owned and operated buildings, and has an expected payback of just one year on the state’s investment.

The new partnership offering consists of four main components:

Systems integration: The integration of building systems, business systems and smart grid technologies using Johnson Controls’ EnNet, a software platform, and IBM software offers increased information on the performance of buildings to reduce operating costs and to keep occupants comfortable.

Energy management: These offerings use energy-waste detection, reporting and intelligent control capabilities and have the potential to drive energy savings between 10% and 20% across a portfolio. Business analytics software provides building owners, operators and tenants with information to help reduce energy consumption and waste.

Enterprise reporting: This gives businesses the capability to calculate greenhouse gas levels by measuring, managing and forecasting activities related to energy cost, consumption, energy efficiency projects, fleet emissions and waste.

Space Optimization: Under-used space can be identified and more efficient options defined including footprint consolidation, divestiture and relocation. Building space management solutions and advanced analytics can improve space utilization between 10% and 20%.

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