Smart Building, Equipment & IoT Trends 2022
With 2021 still being dominated by the effects of Covid-19, many of the trends that emerged this year, such as changing the way we work and the switch to remote management, are still evolving and here to stay. However, there have been key events and drivers, such as the COP26 conference, that will significantly influence the technology trends over the coming year.
Here are J2 Innovations’ top trends for the industry in 2022:
No more blah, blah, blah
Greta Thunberg condemned global leaders over their promises to fix climate change as all being ‘blah, blah, blah’ at the COP26 summit in November 2021. Her frustration was palpable and resonated across the world – words won’t fix climate change, only action will. But how can we support the two hundred countries that were asked to present their plans at COP26 to cut emissions by 2030 and turn this into action?
Although many improvements have been made in the energy performance of buildings, with more efficient products and better specifications, there is still a “business as usual” attitude which urgently needs to change if the building sector is to help reach net zero. Mounting pressure from a social, economic, and political level will be creating more action throughout 2022. For example, there is plenty of investment happening, such as the European Green Deal that proposes transformation to meet climate ambitions, so all involved building management need to step-up! This can only happen when we ensure that building stock and equipment is optimized for energy savings and support customers and users of buildings to understand how they can contribute to decarbonization.
Democratization of building automation
The concept of democratization (the action of making something accessible to everyone) will become more significant in the building sector. Organizations who manage buildings want (and need) technology that makes deploying and using building systems easier and access to the data more accessible.
Today 80% of all commercial buildings do not have a building automation system installed, which means they are inefficient and unmanaged, creating vast energy waste and cost. The democratization of buildings hails an opportunity to make drastic improvements in reducing the energy use in buildings by improving access to building automation systems by removing barriers to access and simplifying how controls are installed and commissioned. Therefore, we predict a growing demand for simplifying building automation technology from both an engineering process and operational perspective.
The rise of Edge computing
Whilst the trend to connect buildings to the Cloud will continue, we see another trend emerging; the rise of edge platforms to manage buildings. This trend is driven by several factors – the continued decline of computing costs, concerns about data privacy and ownership, a resistance to SaaS models, and the reality that many analytics functions can be better handled locally rather than at cloud level.
Now that web services technology is enabling easy and secure edge to cloud connectivity, and data security can be achieved by cloud back-ups, new Edge software platforms that manage buildings on site are set to grow in importance. Due to the sophistication and feature set required to achieve this, many solutions providers will be looking to specialist software providers to meet this demand.
HVAC equipment manufacturers providing more controls
As the availability of software technology to make building automation simpler to deploy and use has increased, HVAC and other equipment manufacturers must seize the opportunity to use this to create their own “system-in-a-box” type solutions for managing their products and the associated ancillary equipment; either managing the plantroom or the whole building. Some will be extending the functionality to lighting and metering, to provide the market with a much easier way to acquire integrated BMS type functionality, without the cost of custom engineering.
Air quality and building occupancy in the (post) pandemic business environment
Awareness of the productivity and well-being aspects of air quality in the built environment was growing before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the concern about ventilation rates to reduce infection risk has accelerated this trend, which is set to continue in 2022. Many siloed air quality focused solutions have been brought to market, but a more holistic approach is required in which air quality management is incorporated into the overall building automation system. Being able to see that air quality is bad on a mobile app via the Cloud is good, but an automatic adjustment of the HVAC equipment to mitigate or avoid this is much better.
Alex Rohweder is CEO of J2 Innovations