Intelligent Buildings

Probably one of those sexy misnomers, that not just accords undue “intelligence” to electronic chips, but rather, trivializes the role of the owner and designer in the appropriateness of design actions. Perhaps a better description would be : Building Owned by an Intelligent Owner!!! ( can’t think of a sexy adverb).

Predominantly, failure of building to be energy sensitive, and therefore responsive and optimized, is neglected on the following grounds:

  • It is an unnecessary, additional and large expense.
  • It is difficult to execute, and even more difficult to monitor and maintain.
  • Energy efficiency doesn’t matter

Starting with Item 3. We are way past the stage of complacence in environmental degradation, to not care about it. Most of us, especially in the developing countries, live with water scarcity, and, are often without access to potable/ see water. Our “spend” on commute and traffic, keeps rising, while our tax money continues to be gobbled up by more and more “ infrastructure” designed to add to our misery and agony. Think highway toll plazas, Jams at the beginning and end of “flyovers” and the scandalous, yet, widespread difference between the design, geometry and construction quality of the main highway, versus the turnoff and lane in front of your house/ office/ factory!!!! Something is not right, and, it is based on the idea of the availability of infinite energy…. Some fossil based, but largely, human. Think, the next time you reach out for a fat rich comfort pizza, since you’ve had a tough day!!!!! 

Buildings are our living quarters… and how we place them, plan them, design them, optimise them and humanise them, is going to define our future…. And the future of our children.

2. It’s difficult to execute. Almost every designer/ contractor/ project manager who prophesies this, carries a smartphone and listens to music on a cordless, Bluetooth 5.1 speaker system and enjoys driving a car that promises to deliver “a superior driving experience”. None of the complexity involved in a smartphone mother board, a Bluetooth gadget or what beneath the bonnet of the car is ever a detriment to its ownership or enjoyment. A mobile phone seldom lasts two years … a music system 3 to 4…. A car, seldom more Thant 7 years. The least expensive building would need to comply to building codes that demand functional stability for at least 20 years, if not more. About time we all stated looking at  TCO… the Total Cost of Ownership….. from building, to maintenance, to energy bills and the ability of the building to at least not add to pollution, if not actively engage in a better environment. Its actually cheaper and easier than ever before, to make intelligent, interconnected and controllable buildings.

Sensors, motors and VFD devices are more functional, cheaper and affordable than ever before. It obviously, needs time and effort to understand, design and specify……. But then, it also takes a lot of time and energy, to get to office on time, after spending a sleepless night coughing and sneezing due to air pollution!!!!!

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