Commercial buildings are voracious consumers of energy. The buildings and building construction sectors contribute around 30% of global energy consumption and almost 40% of CO2 emissions (direct and indirect), according to the IEA. Sustainable buildings are more than trendy, they’re key to reducing humans’ carbon footprint on the planet. Building owners deploy smart building solutions and building-management systems to not only cut operations costs and comply with regulations but also to do their part in reducing carbon emissions without sacrificing occupant comfort in the process.

So how do you make an already smart, efficient building smarter and more efficient? This was the question being asked at HBMSU (Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University), a smart university in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Originally equipped in partnership with tech companies Signify, Siemens, Smart Citti, and Trane, HBMSU’s smart-campus application leverages AI (artificial intelligence) to connect four disparate systems (lighting, cooling, building management, and power and efficiency control) to each other. But building managers still weren’t satisfied that the university’s smart systems were operating at peak performance.

Therefore, HBMSU recently partnered with Honeywell to run a pilot program leveraging the Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization solution, and it discovered that even smart systems have room for improvement. David Trice, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Connected Buildings, says HBMSU applied Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization, a cloud-based, closed-loop solution, to its existing building-management system. The IoT (Internet of Things)-based optimization solution continuously studied the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) energy consumption patterns and automatically adjusted to optimal energy-saving settings using intelligence gained from machine learning.

“The customer was keen to explore IoT solutions to further drive optimization across its facility,” Trice says. “With the Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization IoT-based platform, we demonstrated (an) initial 10% energy savings. This is significant, as the university’s buildings were already highly smart and energy efficient.”

By evaluating the HVAC system’s internal set-points every 15 minutes and taking dozens of data points into consideration, such as weather, time of day, and occupancy levels, the Forge Energy Optimization solution made calculated adjustments up to 96 times a day to reduce energy consumption. Honeywell says for a complex building like this one, its machine-learning solution could take as many as 9.3 million actions per year.

“From an energy-management standpoint, we believe with Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization that we can help building owners save millions of dollars in energy costs and will ultimately even help to reduce the amount of energy used by buildings globally,” Trice says. “Beyond the energy savings, we also estimate that our technology can help building owners save on maintenance costs.”

The IoT is making buildings and cities smarter, safer, more sustainable, and more productive. As Trice points out, the magic sauce behind IoT technologies is data. “Data is only useful if you can easily and securely access it and properly evaluate it,” he explains. “Through Honeywell Forge, we’re creating a platform that has an open architecture and hardware-agonistic capabilities that uses the latest self-learning algorithms coupled with autonomous control. The result is that we can aggregate data from disparate systems so customers can make better decisions to help improve their bottomline.”

Challenge: Make a smart university even smarter.

Risk: That the payoff wouldn’t be significant.

Solution: HBMSU applied Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization to its existing building-management system as part of a pilot program.

Payoff: Honeywell Forge Energy Optimization demonstrated an initial 10% energy savings.

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