IoT Paves Its Way Into Commercial Construction

Have you ever sat in a meeting and suddenly wondered if you closed your garage door in the morning?  It tends to leave you in a bit of a panic, making it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Those days are long gone since the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) – there seems to be an app for just about everything you do (and yes, there are several for garage door systems!). Over the past few decades our lives have slowly been transformed with technology and information, but that slow pace is now at a full on run.  Everyone and everything is connected. From digital marketing to social media engagement, down to your garage door opener or air conditioner – it is all digital and can be controlled from anywhere you are. It is transforming our lives and is the essence of IoT. This buzz word that has been around for many years continues to rise at a rapid adoption rate with no signs of slowing its growth trajectory as more and more products offer consumers new ways to stay connected to…, well, everything.

“IoT deployment in commercial buildings will continue to grow at a rapid pace over the next few years, and is on pace to reach just over 1 billion in 2018.”

Gartner, Inc.

The proliferation of connected “everything” is evident within the consumer/residential real estate market. This growth is so wide that we see the adoption spilling into the commercial space of construction, design and management. While the technology has been around for many years, adoption has been slow within the commercial arena due to system integration issues. Even though that is still a concern, as those issues decrease and as new buildings are erected, IoT plays a major role in commercial construction. According to Gartner, Inc., commercial buildings will have 518 million connected “things” this year (2016).  The Smart City sees an even larger adoption with the use of 1.6 billion connected things.

Industrial areas, retail centers, traditional office spaces, airports and transportation systems all can use IoT devices to shape and enhance the experience of its intended users. When we discuss IoT, it is the connection and transfer of data between a network of interrelated objects that require no human interaction. IoT in a commercial building system might look like this:

  • A building is constructed with HVAC, lighting, security & access, safety, and water management systems that contain sensors for management and tracking
  • Facilities managers and owners have access to tools, applications and services that enable monitoring of devices
  • Applications and tools create detailed and actionable reports
  • Integrates information with company’s financial, security and accounting systems
  • Facilities managers and owners can pinpoint areas of service, areas for energy improvement and benchmark facility
  • Building occupants’ experience, more secure systems and more satisfaction with building environment

From a facilities management standpoint, IoT implementations are certainly a real estate gem since it allows for collection of data and insights into the building’s functionality. More organizations are seeing the benefits. According to Gartner, “IoT deployment in commercial buildings will continue to grow at a rapid pace over the next few years, and is on pace to reach just over 1 billion in 2018.”

But IoT can go so much further than just facilities management. We can take the use of IoT back to before the building is even constructed and look at tools such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) to see how IoT is currently in use within the construction site. BIM is a 3D modeling tool, a standard practice at Mortenson Construction, that provides greater accuracy to estimates, increases efficiency on the job site and provides for better project management and cost and materials savings. BIM is essentially a cloud-based service that puts together all of the components of a building design into one system. All the elements reside together for construction experts to make the right choices when making changes, additions, or removing items from a building’s original design. BIM is becoming more commonplace in the construction industry and, according to Transparency Market Research, is on pace to increase by almost $9 billion in an 8-year timeframe.

IoT has a foothold in the construction industry and is working hard to continue its advancement. Construction of smart cities, smart buildings, even smart stadiums are being built almost every day. If you think about it – IoT enablement greatly enhances services: the stadium fan experience, patient care within medical facilities, new education campus designs that cater to the next generation of technology-savvy and data-hungry students, and the list goes on. IoT is here to stay; embrace it.