Want More Smart Buildings? Amp Up the Collaboration

Want More Smart Buildings? Amp Up the Collaboration

April 1, 2019
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This article originally appeared on FacilityManagement.com

By Bert Valdman, a board member and former CEO of Optimum Energy

Bert Valdman“Smart technologies are defined by their interconnectedness,” points out a recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report on smart building markets. The companies that buy and sell them, however, are defined by their disconnectedness.

Intelligent buildings have been a concept for decades (a quick search turns up a research report from 1991). Sustainability thinkers have been advocating them for years, and they’re a hot topic in building trade publications. So why is it that the brightest thing about most buildings remains their always-on lights?

There are many answers to that question: misaligned incentives, lack of accountability for energy costs, the fact that some professionals in the building maintenance sector see standardization and automation as threats to their livelihoods. Those are all topics of discussion, if not sufficient action. But there’s another core issue that’s been largely overlooked: every actor in the smart buildings universe is an island. Here are some of the culprits:

• Corporations looking to control their energy destiny and improve sustainability often aren’t structured to drive action across the enterprise. Energy-related decision making is decentralized, and local purchasers typically lack the time and expertise needed to make sense of an onslaught of new technologies.

• Emerging companies in smart building and energy technologies burn through precious capital waiting out the resultant long purchasing cycles and building large sales and business development teams to reach the many levels of decision makers.

• These teams all target the same commercial and industrial customers with siloed solutions.

• Established energy service and building technology conglomerates know customers want integrated, comprehensive solutions, but they’re structured to market individual portfolio company products and often hesitate to cross organizational boundaries.

One way to break down these boundaries is to adopt a collaborative business model akin to those sustainability leaders have used to advance fair trade and resource conservation.

Read the full article here