For the past ten months, BIM Academy has been researching the feasibility of a building performance measurement and advice tool which is currently lacking in the building industry. Smart Connected Buildings will be an intelligent data platform containing building design information, sensor data and user feedback, producing meaningful, actionable advice for occupiers, building owners and those who build and maintain properties.

The platform has been designed around the fact many more buildings are now being designed, refurbished and modelled using BIM. A BIM approach generates far more data than ever before, but the industry lacks tools which make good use of this available data, such as giving insight into how a building is performing against how it was designed. Our team comprises BIM Academy, National Energy Foundation, Northumbria University and Your Homes Newcastle.

Since our last blog, work has taken place around the design of a platform capable of linking live sensor data to a model as can be seen in Fig 1. This data will be what drives actionable advice given to tenants, landlords and industry. You can also see the sensors being installed in Fig. 5.

 

Fig 1: A sensor linked to a room is displayed in real-time

 

The work has involved industry interviews at Your Homes Newcastle highlighting the common scenarios faced such as complaints relating to mould growth and the methods needed to reduce them proactively.  It was agreed that an alert set at industry regulation levels, along with the ability to view trends (see Fig 2) and adjust the levels at which alerts are triggered would help achieve a proactive approach to maintenance and thus reduce complaints and maintenance costs.

Another interesting use case extracted is the ability to compare building performance before and after refurbishment.  Comparisons relating to wellbeing and performance have the potential to give invaluable insight into the biggest ‘bang for the buck’ to help drive improvements and lower costs.

The platform also now capable of visualising data, Fig 2 shows a real time graph used to view historical trends.

 

Fig 2: Real time graph of live sensor data

 

Based on interviews and industry feedback, a mock up of the advice and alert screen has also been created (see Fig 3) which will alert stakeholders to potential problems in advance. These alerts will also be forwarded to a mailbox.

Fig 3: Alerts will prompt action

 

Future work planned for quarter four of the project will be focused on refining the prototypes, adding features such as the 3D model viewer in Fig 4 which will add interesting ways to visualise data and alerts within the model, such as highlighting problem areas. We will also implement a flexible actionable advice tier followed by the prototype launch and alpha testing.

 

Fig 4: 3D model viewer highlighting a selected space

 

The advice tier will let building managers deploy any number or type of sensors to target a specific problem; it will give the ability to set up custom alerts relating to their needs such as target levels for power consumption, temperature and humidity and which when reached will trigger a notification.

In addition to customisable alerts, the platform will include a library of built in actionable advice and alerts all pre set at appropriate levels according to regulations and standards. The goal is to ensure the platform is ready to go out of the box for a range of key problem areas while being flexible and extendable.  Check back in a couple of months for the next and final installment of our blog.

 

Fig 5: A sensor being installed to monitor temperature, humidity, light and detect/count movement