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The Promise and Challenge of the Internet of Things for Commercial Facilities

Here’s a challenge: turn on the evening news, or read the feed from your favorite print or online news outlet, and see if you can escape any mention of IoT (the Internet of Things). It is likely not possible.

For example, here are some IoT headlines from just the last month:

What’s not surprising is that most of the headlines approach IoT from the consumer side, looking at how IoT is changing our lives at home in terms of ease and safety: smartwatches that turn other devices on and off; a night light that listens for your smoke detector and calls your smartphone; and connected devices with re-ordering functionality for consumables such as toner and coffee.

However, what about the commercial building space? We have essentially been building our corner of the IoT since it was named such (IoT is a phrase commonly attributed to Kevin Ashton in 1999). It would seem that an examination of a typical modern building automation system (BAS), or a modern networked lighting control system, would indicate that our niche industry is well on its way up the adoption curve. After all, we’ve been deploying sensors since the first pneumatic thermostat, and we’ve been gathering data from the sensors since the first operator recorded the gauge readout onto a clipboard.

At this point, if the concept of the IoT is old news to us and we’re already participating, should we care? Is IoT just a fancy new marketing word for the same old thing?

Find out why we should care and how the potential advantages of IoT are large in the arena of sustainable, smart buildings in Robert Knight’s four-part article in Building Operating Management, "Value of Internet of Things to Green Buildings."