By Tony Armstrong, business development director at ADI


t seems that everything is going green in today’s environmentally planet-friendly mindset. The concept of energy harvesting has been around for

over a decade; however, the implementation of ambient energy-powered systems in the real-world environment has been cumbersome, complex, and costly. Nevertheless, examples of markets where an energy harvesting approach has been used successfully include transportation infrastructure, wireless medical devices, tire pressure sensing, and building automation. Specifically, in the case of building automation systems, such things as occupancy sensors, thermostats, and even light switches have eliminated the power or control wiring normally associated with their installation and used localised energy harvesting systems instead. Constructing smart buildings that will conserve energy, encompassing both commercial and residential structures, is a prerequisite to ensure energy efficient structures do not draw heavily from traditional power sources that use fossil fuels. In the case of commercial buildings, making them smart can be critical for the organisation that is housed in them, since having a building that is energy efficient and streamlined helps to reduce energy costs while also providing a productive environment for the workers within them. However, getting to this point is not without its own set of drawbacks. For example, these buildings will require an infrastructure that can provide the necessary feedback to enable efficient operation of heating and cooling systems, lighting control, and efficient space utilisation. This will most likely


necessitate the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a methodology to monitor and control the environment and will increase their reliance on alternative power sources to effectively manage and control them.


Smart buildings will continuously transform how people carry out their activities on a daily basis. Furthermore, along with conserving energy, smart buildings will help to save money. Already some IoT smart building trends are taking shape to enable this transition.

A good example is how predictive maintenance will make use of sensors (IoT) and other hardware devices to get a report on the state of a commercial building and all equipment in it. This feedback will enable the timing of any necessary maintenance when it is needed, in a timely and effective manner. Unforeseen issues that usually crop up with a preventive maintenance schedule can be overcome by using a predictive maintenance approach. Furthermore, worker productivity can be adversely affected by air quality. Industry research in this

area has shown that workers are 10 per cent more efficient in their duty when they work from buildings with good indoor environmental quality compared to more conventional buildings. Again, IoT devices can be used to measure and check the air quality, as well as carbon dioxide levels in the air using various sensors that are part of a mesh network. These devices are connected to all areas of the building infrastructure, thereby enabling a way to keep the environment and everyone in it healthy and productive.

Figure 1. The main blocks of a typical energy harvesting system.

Another new trend that is expected going forward is the use of IoT supported applications in smart buildings. A good example of this is the use of thermal imaging to allow facility managers to check if their equipment goes outside of its operating temperature range. This can be easily detected, thereby allowing maintenance to be performed before the equipment disrupts its normal operational mode. For example, IoT will transform the way commercial facility managers can track information and measure and collect data; this includes inaccessible areas that were previously too hard to reach. Installing sensors in various parts of the building will track all information that they never had access to in the past. By using IoT interconnected systems, facility managers will now have access to all pertinent information using these systems. Furthermore, IoT will make it possible for commercial owners to have buildings that are energy sufficient. This influences the design of the buildings and allows them to be eco-friendly and

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