According to a recent report from Navigant Research (Pike Research as was) wireless technology is finally entering the mainstream of the commercial building controls market. Worldwide shipments of wireless controls for building automation systems will exceed 36 million units by 2020.
The report, Wireless Control Systems for Smart Buildings, maintains that after years of niche, proprietary solutions and slow standards development, open standards such as ZigBee and EnOcean are replacing vendor-specific wireless RF technology. These open devices will account for nearly half of all wireless building control node shipments by the end of the forecast period.
Building automation has been around for decades, but wireless networks make the control systems much easier to install and maintain – there’s none of the challenges of running cabling to support communications and/or power. It means that sensors and devices can be used in, for example, historic buildings where installing wiring is difficult, if not impossible.
Wireless devices using open standards can also work together. It means that various building automation systems can be linked, including lighting, heating and cooling, fire and safety, and security and access.
Review: Growth in the ICT industry is always spurred on by the emergence of common standards, whether the result of industry agreement or simply the dominance of a single player. It seems that the take-up of open standard wireless devices are having the same impact in building control systems.
Managing buildings is one area where ICT can make a contribution to abating global carbon emissions. According to the SMARTer 2020 report ICT can help reduce worldwide emissions by 9.1GtCO2e by 2020, 16.5% of the global total. The report estimates that over 4% of that can be achieved by installing building management systems that make energy use more efficient. It’s not a large proportion of what ICT can do, but the growth of open standards wireless devices is now making it much easier to implement. If the Navigant report is right then there’s little excuse now for corporations not to manage and monitor the energy their buildings use. It can say money as well as helping save the planet.