Smart buildings: towards appropriate technology solutions

Date:     Wednesday 26 Sep 2012
Time:     18:30 – refreshments were from 6:00pm in EC1-03
Speaker:     Dr Ken Parker – Principal Lecturer in Building Services Engineering
Location:     Room EC1-01 in The New (Gosford Street) Space


When does a building or a building system become smart? And how/why would a smart building have value to occupants? The talk centred around how a building and its systems can be configured, or self-configured, to meet users needs (not necessarily their wants!) and reduce mis-use as a more effective strategy than strive for optimum use.

Ken drew reference to a simple example – in winter a thermostatic radiator valve (trv) strives to maintain a constant room temperature, as compared to a manual valve that might be too open (overheating) or too closed (not warm enough!). But the trv goes about its task regardless of whether the room is occupied, the time of day or if an abuse is occurring – such as a window left open in winter, causing the heating output to rise and, in so doing, maximise heat losses! The question then becomes – can a trv with time programming, occupancy sensor and linkage to window opening state be accepted as ‘smart enough’?

Ken also drew reference to the “instruction leaflet” for the heating and ventilation controls for the new building, and that it did not indicate the two were linked.

Configurable internal environments can not only save energy but they can better support the needs of persons with disability, seniors and others who may benefit from individualised supportive environments, such as those new to a building.

Ken blended quite a few topics – from energy and system use/ mis-use, inclusive design, ‘just good enough’ technology, building intelligence, to ideas of personal directions for new building users and smart badges – and presented many interesting, topical and thought provoking ideas on the way.

We had a whistle-stop tour of the New Space which is also a smart building, and enjoyed discussing some of the less obvious features and places where implementation did not quite live up to the grand design.




Comments are closed.