Building As A Service: a response to current buildings’ use, performance and energy savings challenges
“Not every building is smart. There is a world of difference between a connected building and a truly “intelligent”, service-oriented building,” according to Xavier Mongin, Global Director of Government-Defence-Smart Cities for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. As a new member of the Smart Building Alliance (SBA), ALE is committed to contributing to developing buildings and cities of the future, capable of meeting today’s challenges.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, a French company with a century of innovation and a presence in more than 50 countries, is a specialist in network, communications and cloud infrastructures. In addition to its vertical activities (including education, transportation, healthcare, hospitality, energy, government and defence), the company is now bringing its expertise to smart cities and buildings, which are at the heart of SBA’s concerns. With this in mind, it made perfect sense to join the alliance.
BUILDING 5.0, A SERVICE ENABLER
“At Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, we believe there are big differences between a connected building and a smart building,” explains Xavier Mongin, who compares the evolution of the building to the industrial revolution, from Industry 2.0 to 4.0. His analogy suggests that Building 1.0 — a building that guaranteed safety — had its origins in the 19th century with the arrival of concrete. It was quickly followed by Building 2.0, where sanitary comfort became an addressable concern with electricity and running water. Then came the more sustainable Building 3.0 in the 20th century, followed by Building 4.0, in the early 21st century, known as the “smart building”, around 2010. Now, at the dawn of the 2020’s, Building 5.0 is emerging: A building that provides services, is dedicated to people, with a goal of zero carbon emissions.
THREE LAYERS TO MOVE FROM A CONNECTED BUILDING TO BUILDINGS AS A SERVICE
In tangible terms, the connected building has a first layer known as the physical layer, including cabling, sensors, metres and gateways, Information Technology (IT) networks (for office automation, video surveillance, Internet of Things (IoT) but also increasingly for building technology) and Operational Technology (OT) networks for proprietary systems that still control certain functions such as air conditioning and heating.
“Our LAN and Wi-Fi network solutions are able to connect all these elements,” says Xavier Mongin. “And it is from the second layer, known as the communication layer, that the building becomes smart. We then access the digital world, with more interesting functionalities, in terms of automation, a platform for managing the building, collecting, analysing and using data. We can even offer solutions to manage the building in a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud model, both for network management and for communications between people, connected objects and business applications.”
Mr. Mongin goes on to describe a third layer: The application layer, which makes the building service oriented. Here we find sophisticated technical building management platforms with managed or even autonomous service offers, collaborative communications solutions, monitoring and alert applications (such as air quality and intrusion, among others). This third layer also makes it possible to integrate Building Information Modeling (BIM) with a digital twin capable of monitoring “the life of the building” beyond its design and construction. “This three-layer architecture is in line with the R2S approach, which enables buildings to be designed ready to receive services,” Mongin continues.
A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY
At a time when the energy situation is more important than ever, this equipped, connected, secure and service-oriented building is particularly well-suited to optimising energy efficiency. “It is possible to manage temperature, lighting and window shades, room-by-room, using multiple sensors (such as thermal, presence, and window shade opening), as well as based on needs. An intelligent solution must be capable of collecting data, analysing it, reporting it and adapting it to use. The whole thing must be approached in a global manner,” says Mongin. It’s clear, the functions of a Building as a Service must not be developed in silos. They need to be able to act at the same time on several levels, including, for example lighting, heating and ventilation, as well as occupancy management, to be truly effective.
“For a long time, we thought we just needed to find solutions to reduce consumption, by reducing heating or air conditioning,” Mongin says. “But optimising office occupancy is a powerful opportunity for energy savings. It allows better use of space and more efficient consumption, especially with the evolution of teleworking. For example, let’s look at our ALE site in Illkirch, France, where the surface area has been managed by voluntarily reducing the number of available desks from 500 down to 250. In addition to reducing the number of desks, there is no equipment on the desks. Individuals bring their own laptop or other required equipment when they come to the office space. This flex seating with collaborative spaces environment encourages interaction between employees. Employees also benefit from our latest generation Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess® Stellar Wi-Fi, and services enabled by of our Rainbow™ by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise collaborative platform, which can be accessed both inside and outside the building, at their teleworking location, to make their day-to-day work more fluid.” According to Xavier Mongin, the design of an efficient communications network offers an intrinsic solution for reducing overall energy consumption. By federating systems and converging networks, the volume of network equipment and cables can be drastically reduced. That means less raw materials are consumed and less CO2 is emitted not only during operations but also during the building’s construction.
SUSTAINABILITY IN CITIES
Efficient networks also enable buildings to reconfigure themselves, to be flexible and agile. For example, hotels can become flats, or conference rooms can become theatres. This flexibility optimises resources while providing more services. Another example is the rise of multi-purpose developments that mix several activities (such as hotels, shopping centres, leisure, offices and residences). Technology that shares the same network infrastructure, segments uses (multi-services) and offers a high level of security and water tightness for each entity, makes it possible to reduce the amount of equipment, cables and technical space required, as well as its air conditioning and heating equipment. All this has a considerable impact on energy balance optimisation for a network that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of its occupancy. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is focused on having a major impact on energy consumption by enabling these technologies in buildings and cities around the world. More broadly, the company is committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a roadmap for the future of the planet, and humanity. ALE’s strategy is in line with the sustainable cities and communities’ theme of the 11th SDG, which targets access to services for all inhabitants. “By taking action on buildings, we are also taking action on cities, with the aim of making them more resilient and sustainable,” says Mongin. “We must always take into consideration, sustainable development and energy efficiency improvements and we must encourage recycling as well as extending the lifespan of construction elements and equipment, and of course, optimising consumption.”
CONVINCING EVEN MORE STAKEHOLDERS
While there is a real awareness of today’s energy situation, some clients do not yet appreciate the importance of buildings and cities within the context of the overall energy bill. “This is why we need to provide them with key performance indicators (KPIs) based on building measurements,” says Xavier Mongin. “These KPIs will demonstrate the value of optimising energy consumption through the management of uses, such as space management. Digital technology is essential here, especially as the issue is not just energy, but also human.” Safety, health, well-being and productivity are just a few of the areas that digital technology in the building sector impacts at a variety of levels.
“However, there is still a real need to educate, popularise these ideas, and support people in the face of the ongoing lack of understanding of the benefits of intelligent buildings,” Mongin says. “This is the whole point of SBA, which has succeeded in bringing together the entire sector to design a framework of trust (following the example of Ready 2 Services and its variations) and to evangelise the principals and public authorities. I am motivated to join the movement, to develop together with our partners, as well as our competitors, best practices and technologies that are as open as possible and accessible to all.”
The author, Xavier Mongin Global Director for Government, Defense, and Smart Cities, at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, 01/08/2022