by Charles Waltner
Smart building technologies are not only saving building owners and their tenants some cash, they are also offering significant help in saving the planet.
Thanks in part to Internet protocol-based networks, new digital technologies are ready to make dramatic contributions in how buildings function, particularly in reducing their energy consumption.
The idea of smart buildings has been around for decades, but the lack of a standard communications infrastructure has stymied efforts, says Mark Golan, the head of Cisco Systems' Connected Real Estate group. Now, however, Internet protocol (IP) networks are providing the foundation to unify a wide variety of building automation tasks. "These systems have been begging to be converged onto a common wireless network," Golan says.
Though it might still sound a bit far-fetched for bricks and mortar to have a brain, industry experts say today's technology is now more than capable of giving buildings this kind of intelligence. With advances in such areas as "smart dust" micro-sensors and wireless mesh communications, IP networks can now plug into some pretty cool stuff for making buildings work better.