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Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Commercial buildings and the move to smart technology

The smart technology market is only growing, but this tech isn’t just confined to the home – more and more commercial buildings are embracing the modern advances.



BY Andrew McDonald

26 March, 2020


According to Statista, by 2022 the global smart technology market for homes is forecast to reach a value of over $53 billion U.S. dollars. Looking at this trend and how it is helping shape residential design, we can see how it will change the future of commercial architecture and design.

The traditional way of thinking when it came to smart technology in the home was for consumers or designers to purchase their routers or hubs from electronics brick and mortar stores or from online retailers. Now though, broadband providers are starting to bundle these devices for free as part of their content-driven services, reflecting the popularity of these services.

A typical hub for homes can support up to 32 devices or home appliances. These intelligent devices can include dimming switches, light sockets, security cameras, door locks, window proof switches and more.

Wireless communication protocols such as Zigbee, one user can, using their smart phone, control and monitor all these devices using single interface – adjusting and automating devices to maximise energy usage and efficiency, which is where the commercial application of this technology becomes clear.

Bringing smart home benefits to commercial buildings

Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence AI have allowed the export of new smart technology home automation principles into the commercial building space. Recently, security, HVAC, and building solutions company Wadsworth Solutions worked with Schneider Electric to integrate and modernise their building physical infrastructure.

Using Schneider Electric’s newly launched smart building automation controller, Wadsworth was able to install a system that offers smart home-like granular control on a commercial scale operation. This controller with built in Zigbee system picks up on wireless signals for everything from light switches to smart devices that determine individual seat occupancy, with no additional hard wiring required.

This controller can also pick up signals from sensors within trash receptacles, monitoring when they need to be emptied, electric sockets and switches, water coolers, blinds, and much more. This means that, for Wadsworth Solutions, the work of keeping their operations running efficiently and smoothly is greatly eased, leaving them to do the work they excel at. Preset environmental parameters also allow for a system that optimises energy use, minimises waste, and reduces cost while maximising comfort.

“Walking around the facility of one of my customers, we noticed that several employees were running space heaters in their cubicles,” remarked Jeff Groat, Executive Vice President of Wadsworth Solutions, “On average these devices consume 1.5 kW of energy for every hour they are operated. In many cases, these devices are still on when the employee is absent from the cubicle. This presents a challenging situation for the facilities staff whose temperature control efforts are fighting these unaccounted for, extra heat loads.”

The solution was to place inexpensive remote switches on every space heater and a motion detector in every cubicle. The sensors could then communicate back to a master control, and automatically shut off the space heaters when not used, ensuring efficient energy use while retaining individual comfort. For this customer, it meant a brilliant return on investment in under 40 days.

Smart technology for the commercial space is here, and with systems such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ platform, new levels of connectivity, efficiency and comfort are just a few clicks away.


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