technology

10 companies moving up in smart buildings

By Heather Clancy
View the original article here.

smart-buildingsThe phrase “Internet of things” has become a convenient catch-all for all manner of technologies that carry this common characteristic — they’re capable of sharing their data not only with each other but also with other information technology systems, enabling far deeper insights into how well they’re running and what’s going on around them.

In 2015, more than 15.4 billion gadgets fell into this uber category, according to data from market research firm IHS. That number could double by the end of 2020, and then again by the end of 2025. These “things” can be installed virtually everywhere, from factory floors to streetlights to water pipes — cities alone could spend at least $20 billion on sensor networks by 2020.

But one area to watch closely from sustainability perspective will be technologies related to buildings, both commercial and residential. Think of it this way: the Internet of things (aka IoT) is crucial for broader adoption of smart buildings. That will have big implications for how companies handle energy management. And for the next three years at least, IoT will be more pervasive in smart commercial buildings than anywhere else, suggests consulting firm Deloitte.

Things are certainly pointing up. Revenue related to installations of sensor-equipped lighting, climate control equipment, thermostats, and other automation systems could quadruple over the next decade to about $732 billion, predicts Navigant Research in a report published in early December.

“Connected or IoT devices in commercial buildings or homes enable a variety of applications and provide benefits related to automation, convenience, and, of course, energy efficiency — and these benefits are starting to resonate among building managers, homeowners, and even renters,” said Navigant principal research analyst Neil Strother.

More evidence that interest becoming more serious: ABI Research predicts that revenue related to IoT-enabled smart building technologies should grow to more than $8 billion in 2020, compared with just $625 million last year. The bulk of that money will be related to smart lighting and “intuitive” HVAC control systems, according to the research firm.

“IoT platforms such as GE’s Predix, IBM’s Watson, and SAP’s HANA, in collaboration with facility service providers, like CBRE, ISS World, and ENGIE, are gradually creating inroads by integrating multiple building automation systems to deliver a unified facilities management solution,” said ABI analyst Adarsh Krishnan. “the ‘make or buy’ dilemma of whether to develop the solution in-house or collaborate with a third-party technology vendor.”

What makes the transformation so hard, of course, is the long life expectancy of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems — usually at least 15 years, and counting.

But leading manufacturers are working diligently to instrument and automate their systems through IoT hardware and software, so that commercial buildings can respond better to environmental stimuli or a company’s energy efficiency policies. Here’s a cheat sheet of 10 big players to watch closely in the upcoming year (presented alphabetically).

Cisco

Part of San Jose, California-based networking giant Cisco’s “Internet of Everything” mantra is an energy efficiency concept it started pushing more aggressively in early 2016 called the “Digital Ceiling.”

The idea is to consolidate smart lighting networks and other Internet-connected devices into a centralized dashboard that can be controlled via a smartphone application. The system includes smart lighting that doesn’t require a separate electricity source—they are powered by the Ethernet network itself. Cisco lined up an impressive list of partners, including LED lighting pioneer Cree, to help evangelize the idea.

Hitachi

There’s been plenty of buzz about the 106-year-old Japanese conglomerate’s compelling business model for microgrids. Back in May, however, Hitachi began touting its IoT strategy, which is based on a technology called Lumada.

This platform will be relevant across a broad range of applications not just smart buildings, including connected vehicles, although details about the technology are just starting to emerge. “While it is still very early days in the IoT platform market, the landscape is crowded, making it difficult for new vendors to differentiate themselves,” said Christian Renaud, an analyst for 451 Research. “Hitachi’s extensive expertise in operational technology and IT gives them a unique understand of the fundamental requirements to build and deploy IoT solutions at scale.”

Honeywell

Honeywell’s IoT strategy already touches about 10 million smart buildings worldwide. One of the Morris Plains, N.J.-based company’s latest forays is a mobile app — which sounds similar to technology from startup Comfy — that lets building occupants report issues with heating or cooling. Basically, people become “sensors” alongside digital counterparts such as sensor. “Occupant engagement is an increasingly important aspect of intelligent building solutions,” said Navigant analyst Casey Talon.

IBM

The tech giant has been involved with a myriad of smart-this-and-that initiatives related to its Smarter Planet campaign. Now, IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., is putting the firepower of its Watson artificial intelligence and data analysis software behind its projects that make buildings smarter.

One of its biggest customers for the technology is ISS, a facilities management company that will use Watson in more than 25,000 buildings to assess readings from sensors on windows, doors, chairs, food dispensers, air conditioning systems and so on. The sensors on doors, for example, can help commercial kitchens within these facilities figure out how many meals to cook for lunch, helping cut back on food waste. “Putting a ‘human touch’ in buildings helps to increase employee productivity, decrease absenteeism, and makes a better impression on visitors,” said ISS CEO Jeff Gravenhorst.

Deals beween mammoth players in building automation and connectivity, such as the one between Johnson Controls and Cisco, are becoming more common.

Johnson Controls

Already a big proponent of the push to net-zero buildings and the idea that buildings should “talk” to each other, $37.7 billion Johnson Controls became an even larger force in IoT technologies when the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, company merged in September with security services firm Tyco. Johnson Controls allied with IBM on the smarter building cause back in 2010, and moved closer to Cisco earlier this year (it’s one of several companies supporting the Digital Ceiling framework).

Legrand

The French-born electrical component manufacturer, which has been taking a deeper interest in sustainable business practices across its own operations, launched its IoT initiative dubbed ELIOT in November.

Legrand sees its technology as the glue tying together automation technologies from the likes of Samsung and Cisco. The effort even supports Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled home automation gadget, which is being engineered to handle tasks such as adjusting lights or temperatures. It helps that $4.5 billion Legrand’s sales for connected devices were more than $350 million in 2015, up 34 percent. “Legrand is built in, not simply plugged in,” said Stephen Schoffstall, chief marketing officer for the company. “This distinction is critical when you consider that ELIOT is an expression of Legrand’s determination to evolve the experience of living, working, and operating in buildings — and to minimize the impact those buildings will have on the environment.”

Panasonic

The Japanese company is already a well-known player in green building technologies such as energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, heating and renewable energy. Like its biggest peers and competitors, it is prioritizing investments that use data from these systems to help them run ever-more efficiently. One example is its agreement with Germany’s Schneider Electric, announced in October, under with the two companies are collaborating on wireless technology that connects Schneider’s building management system with Panasonic HVAC systems that use variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology. Translation: the amount of energy they require can be adjusted more finely than previous generations of the equipment.

“By combining the power of building management with cutting-edge VRF technology, we are able to help our customers further reduce capital and operating expenditures and reach new levels of sustainability,” said Toshiyuki Takagi, executive officer of Panasonic Corp., and president of Panasonic Air-Conditioner.

Schneider Electric

The energy management specialist, which has been especially vocal in the past about smart cities projects, overhauled its smart building product line called EcoStruxure in late November. You might think of Schneider first as a hardware company, but its partnership with cloud services giant Microsoft is focused on helping companies analyze operational data more efficiently. Its aforementioned partnership with Panasonic is also powerful.

Siemens

An emerging force in commercial and community microgrids, German conglomerate Siemens is also shoring up its IoT expertise. During 2016, it announced separate partnerships with IBM and consulting firm Capgemini to build even more credibility. The IBM pact centers on creating a cloud service to help corporate real estate managers gain access to energy efficiency metrics for their facility portfolios. The deal with Capgemini has a similar goal.

Verdigris Technologies

This San Francisco upstart is using artificial intelligence to collect information from a building’s electrical panels and then analyze these “fingerprints” for opportunity to optimize settings and to predict possible maintenance issues that could boost power consumption.

Verdigris raised $6.7 million in an October venture capital round that was led by contract manufacturer Jabil and Verizon Ventures, bringing total funding to about $15 million. The company is doing well helping companies in the hospitality sector reduce electricity usage; Hyatt, Marriott, and Starwood Hotels are all customers.

Has the Increase of Human Knowledge given us Wisdom? Let’s start the dialogue

11/25/14

By Paul L. Jones, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

It makes sense that as we experience life, we learn from our experiences which changes our view of the world – we call it many things – like growing up or becoming mature. Throughout each of the stages of our lives, we experience life differently which causes us to act differently. Those changes can be infused from our personal lives through the loss of a loved one, the survival of a major illness, the overcoming of addictions or the recovery from a bad marriage or relationship. Or they may be through our education and career, through the rise and fall of a business, the lessons of a new course of study, the influence of colleagues and clients. And they may be spiritual – developing a deeper relationship with our God – however we conceive Him/Her to be, and what becomes important in the service of God and humanity. Ideally, we mature through all of these experiences and we move into Wisdom.

Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment; the quality of being wise; the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge and good judgment; or the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.”

The process of maturation in an individual can be viewed as the evolution of a person. And just as a person evolves, so does society: humanity as a species is dramatically different now than it was just 30 years ago – pre-internet, pre-smart phone, pre-nanotechnology, pre so many things that have changed how we experience and view the world.

In fact, the pace of human advancement has been accelerating throughout time. you can select many gauges by which to measure progress and change, patents for instance; but, there is one yard stick that I think gives us the greatest insight into the pace of change which is R. Buckminster Fuller’s Knowledge Doubling Curve which he introduced in his 1982 book, Critical Path.

A futurist and inventor, Fuller estimated that if we took all the knowledge that mankind had accumulated at the time of AD One, or One CE (Common Era), as equal to one unit of information, which took humcurveans nearly 198,000 years to accumulate, and used that as the benchmark; the amount of human knowledge would take another 1,500 years to double. With the introduction of the printing press, the pace of growth in human knowledge started to accelerate with another doubling occurring in about 250 years. By 1900 (around 150 years), human knowledge had doubled again. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. At the time Critical Path was published, Fuller estimated that human knowledge was doubling every 18 months. Now, Human knowledge is estimated to double every 13 months. With the internet and other advances in human communication and data storage, IBM predicts that human knowledge is soon to double every 12 hours.

 

This growth in human knowledge has lead to great advancements in the quality of life for much of humanity with scientific and technological advancements leading to improved hygiene, literacy, agricultural production, mass production, and medicine.

Further, these advancements lead to the first real increase in global per capita GDP which has been estimated to average $158 per annum (adjusted to 2013 dollars) from pre-history until the Industrial Revolution.   (According to a 1998 academic paper entitled “Estimates of World GDP, One Million BC to Present” by J. Bradford De Long of the UC Berkeley Department of Economics, GDP per capital started escalating around AD 1600 with consistent growth occurring after 1800).

The growth of knowledge and information accelerated in the 18th and 19th Centuries with a doubling of human knowledge translated into improved opportunities for a better life: People were empowered with knowledge which lead to the end of the feudal system and the introduction of democracy in politics, social structures and economics.

With the pace of human knowledge and the changes that it brings to our daily lives increasing exponentially, the natural reaction is to hold onto the bar and try to slow down the ride – like we do in a roller coaster or a vehicle traveling faster than is comfortable….

All this information and knowledge and experience should also lead to wisdom, right?opportun

Unfortunately, however, billions of people – including many of our political, religious and social leaders – still live as if they were in the Middle Ages.

The changes have made our lives better in many ways – but they have come with a price.   The following diagram from Wiki-books on “Economic History” is a diagram of societal development: hunter/gatherer, pastoralist/horticulturalist, agrarian, industrial, and post-industrial. It also ties each stage of development to the important consequences of societal development, namely: surplus, denser populations, specialization, technology and inequality (As a dramatic example of this inequality, the Toilet Board Coalition just reported that over one billion people live with no alternative to open defecation while 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to proper sanitation which is in stark contrast to the standard of living experienced in the First World.) See: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/19/world-toilet-day-business-coalition-open-defecation?CMP=new_1194

econom

(http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Economic_History)

As noted in an October 2012 article by Samuel Arbesman in BBC Future, “our lives are governed by centuries of advances that haven’t been random….there’s a pattern that reveals how our knowledge has changed over time….”

Understanding this pattern, Mr. Arbesman states, “helps us to understand something fundamental to our success as a species.”

In technology, Gordon Moore, a retired chemist and physicist who was a co-creator of the Intel Corporation, wrote a paper in 1965 entitled, Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits. In this short paper, Moore predicted that the number of possible components that can be placed on a single circuit for a fixed cost would double every year. This thesis, based on just four data points, has been proven true and is known as “Moore’s Law.”

If you generalize Moore’s Law from integrated circuits and chips to information technology, it explains extremely regular changes in technology over the past few centuries.

A primary reason that everything from the growth in knowledge to the advances in science and technology follows this pattern is related to the concept of cumulative knowledge.   All advances are built on the information available already. Like this article is based on the information and research that has been done by many people and is available now on the internet.

Mr. Arbresman continues:

” So, while exponential growth is not a self-fulfilling proposition, there is feedback, which leads to a sort of technological imperative: as there is more technological or scientific knowledge on which to grow, new technologies increase the speed at which they grow. But why does this continue to happen? Technological or scientific change doesn’t happen automatically; people are needed to create new ideas and concepts. The answer is that in addition to knowledge accumulation, we need to understand another factor that’s important to knowledge progression: population growth.”

In an August 1993 academic article published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Michael Kremer presents the case that the growth in knowledge and technology is directly linked to population growth and that technological growth is proportional to population growth.

There are now over seven billion humans on this earth – which both fuels innovation, the growth of knowledge, scientific discovery and technology while also causing an extreme demand on natural capital – the stock of finite resources which includes geology, soil, air, water and all living things from which humans use to sustain life.

Now, the question is – with 200,000 years of history and all this data, information and knowledge, have we grown wise?

What would Ali think? What do you think?

To be continued…..

This 19-Year-Old Is Ready to Build an Ocean Cleanup Machine

By Caroline Winter, Bloomberg Business Week, 6/10/2014

View the original story here

The world’s oceans contain millions of tons of trash, much of it collected into vast gyres of plastic and debris. Even if humanity stopped putting garbage in the water today, researchers project that these garbage patches would continue growing for hundreds of years. One such trash vortex, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, already spans hundreds of miles.

How do we get all that garbage out? Boyan Slat, a 19-year-old Dutch aeronautical engineering student, is raising $2 million to build an ocean cleanup contraption he designed to passively funnel garbage to specific collection points. Working with a team of over 100 people, he recently released a 528-page feasibility study (PDF) detailing how the complex technology works and grappling with questions of legality, costs, environmental impact, and potential pitfalls.

Slat’s plan, expressed simply, is to deploy several V-shaped floating barriers that would be moored to the seabed and placed in the path of major ocean currents. The 30-mile-long arms of the V are designed to catch buoyant garbage and trash floating three meters below the surface while allowing sea life to pass underneath. “Because no nets would be used, a passive cleanup may well be harmless to the marine ecosystem,” he writes in the feasibly study.

Over time, the trash would flow deeper into the V , from which it would then be extracted. The report estimates that the plastic collection rate would total 65 cubic meters per day and that the trash would have to be picked up by ship every 45 days. Slat hopes to offset costs by recycling the collected plastic for other uses.

One limitation is that the Ocean Cleanup machine won’t pick up tiny plastic particles, which tend to distribute over greater depths and pollute the entire ocean, including the Arctic. “Particles smaller than 0.1 mm are not caught whereas all particles larger than 1 mm are estimated to be caught,” wrote the cleanup team via e-mail. Still, many of these tiny particles have been and will be produced by the breakdown of larger bits of plastic. “In that view,” wrote the team, “we will greatly reduce the number of microscopic particles over time.”

The money to build a pilot version is already trickling in. Barely seven days into a 100-day crowd funding campaign, the Ocean Cleanup already has more than 3,300 backers who have contributed nearly $200,000.