Building automation can benefit from machine learning

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By Kyle Gable, C.E.M – Director of Technical Solutions

Building automation systems may seem intelligent. In reality, they simply compare real-time input information to static code and parameters then control outputs. For those who are not familiar with the tech world, this probably sounds complicated. However, these types of systems are programmed by a technician and generally are not altered for the duration of their lifespan.

Unfortunately, while the price of traditional building automation system components is decreasing, the cost of skilled labor to install and maintain the system is increasing.

Adding analytics, fault detection, and diagnostics to building automation has become a popular trend. This is a good thing. Especially when it comes to energy conservation and protecting the environment. Analytics software is able to detect and notify the building operators when a problem arises. In efforts to prompt the building operator to take action, some analytics software will actually calculate the energy loss and convert it to a monetary value. However, the assistance usually stops there. The system still requires human interaction to solve the problem.

Future buildings will benefit from machine learning and eventually artificial intelligence. Don’t be alarmed. Unlike that science fiction movie, you watched last night, we do not have to be afraid of our buildings. Future buildings will be filled with low cost, connected devices (IoT), and all this information can be shared to allow for better decision making.

Machine learning will optimize the comfort, safety and efficiency of buildings with little need for human interaction. For example, a wearable device such as a smartwatch could communicate to the air handler that an occupant is hot or beginning to sweat, even though the room is maintaining set point. The temperature would then be adjusted automatically. In addition, future buildings will learn the flow of occupants throughout the building and make adjustments in real time. Furthermore, this stored information could be shared with other buildings, to create a constantly improving database of information.

It is truly an exciting time to be part of the building automation industry. We eagerly anticipate the development and release of new technologies. Because ultimately, they empower us to solve our customers’ problems.