These walls can talk
Monash University and Honeywell Building Solutions are working together to create the buildings of the future, reports TIFFANY PACZEK.
Honeywell and Monash University recently signed a collaboration agreement to deliver one of the world’s first ‘cognitive office buildings’, bringing together next-generation technology and research to significantly change the way buildings are managed. They’re using big data to “intelligently and automatically alter the internal environment” to develop cognitive buildings and redefine the term ‘smart buildings’.
A cognitive building is a smart building that collects data from various sensors – and then takes that data to learn from it and find meaning from it, to improve the functionality and management of the building.
Honeywell will deploy its Honeywell Vector Occupant app across the Monash Clayton campus to collect data on how staff and students rate spaces, navigate buildings, report faults, and how often and when particular buildings are accessed, through the use of smart device technology.
The data will feed into Honeywell’s Command and Control Suite that’s based in the Future Control Room at Monash, connecting key personnel with the data visualisations. It provides simple, intuitive displays to building operations teams and allows them to enhance facilities and security management, and to create comfortable spaces for staff and students, all while reducing energy consumption.
Karl Mahoney, vice president of Honeywell Building Solutions Asia Pacific, says that the data gathered from the Monash buildings will allow the university to achieve unprecedented levels of optimisation.
“Using Monash University buildings, we want to bring a new level of intelligence – a brain, if you will – allowing them to service their occupants in ways we might never have thought possible. This first research project is a great vehicle for Honeywell working alongside Monash IT experts and students to solve real challenges for the university,” says Mahoney.
At the Honeywell and Monash collaboration signing and launch event, held in Monash’s New Horizons building, Mahoney said, “I have no doubt you’ve heard the terms ‘smart cities’ and ‘smart buildings’. What this means is that cities and buildings are leveraging the power of data, sensors and analytics through the Internet of Things to become more connected, resulting in safer, greener and more productive workplaces.
“Where cognitive buildings will differ is that they will take this intelligence to a whole new level. They will diagnose, respond and learn in a way that will deliver unprecedented levels of optimisation, and serve their occupants in ways we can’t even imagine today.
“So for all the teaching teams, the researchers and the students, cognitive buildings – and a longer-term cognitive campus – will deliver spaces that are not only more comfortable, safer, energy efficient and potentially healthier, but can dynamically suggest new ways of using spaces, helping Monash maximise the utilisation of their assets, and the educational outcomes,” Mahoney said.
Cognitive buildings benefit the four groups of occupants – the building users, the service providers, the contract managers and the strategic planners.
The objective of cognitive buildings for users is to create an intuitive and responsive interface for the building users to immerse themselves into the Monash campus, while ensuring optimal comfort for productive learning environments. The cognitive building allows for easy navigation of the campus, giving users ready access to information about the building, its assets and the services available. It gives them the ability to rate spaces, comfort and services, providing feedback on the level of satisfaction and comfort they experience with specific areas. Users also have the ability to report on and request services, providing the opportunity to improve services or works as needed.
For building operators and service technicians, the objective is to foster intelligent campus operations through an integrated interface, allowing for efficient maintenance of building assets and systems and supporting the transition to a customer- centric service provider focus. Service requests are received and easily updated, allowing service providers to quickly respond to and investigate any maintenance requests and to review open cases through an intuitive service portal. It uses real-time asset data and inputs condition assessments and updates values directly into the system. It also provides access to equipment performance, allowing technicians to quickly understand the system context to reduce turnaround times and identify an asset’s strategic importance and response priority, in order to respond to critical issues first.
For this group, comprising building owners and facility managers, the objective is to provide real-time actionable information to maintain high-performance buildings, in order to ensure mission critical environments are maintained and to deliver quality experiences. It allows them to review the asset performance and services, providing access to an asset performance dashboard to track comfort, user satisfaction and service performance. They can report back to building users and give them direct feedback from operations, and thus maintain high customer satisfaction ratings.
For IT staff the objective is to provide actionable analytics for informed decision-making. They can access strategic analytics and use patterns in space usage, up-to-date asset condition and performance history in order to plan space utilisation and asset maintenance.
The testing phase at Monash University thus far has revealed reduced energy consumption for the Clayton campus. The research outcomes will contribute to the broader Monash University Net Zero initiative, in which Monash aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – the most ambitious project of its kind undertaken by an Australian university.
Monash Faculty of IT dean, Professor Jon Whittle, says the size of the Clayton Campus and its energy requirements are similar to a small city, making it the perfect place to establish a ‘cognitive building’ environment.
“As Australia’s largest university, with more than 78,000 students, 16,000 staff and over 150 buildings spread across four domestic campuses, we’re a significant consumer of energy,” Whittle says.
“The team at Monash, working together with Honeywell, is changing the way building performance data can be used to help mitigate risk, enhance business continuity and reduce operational costs,” says Whittle. ●
This article also appears in the August/September issue of Facility Management magazine.
Images courtesy of Honeywell.