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Sensors are becoming more and more integral to our way of life. They allow us to monitor and control our environment to suit our needs. While this seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago, it is now a common occurrence to control the heating, dim the lights and even check who is at the front door even if we are not actually home.
With the invention of the internet of things (IoT) which allows multiple sensors to be connected and share information across a network, sensors are able to be used to monitor and manipulate multiple aspects around a building. They can control and adapt to the environment through heating and air conditioning as well as lighting. This can make sure that the tenants or employees are comfortable while also reducing expenditure and increasing efficiency. They can give an accurate account of how humans are interacting with objects or spaces in the building.
One way in which sensors have been extremely useful is in the providing of early maintenance warnings for equipment. This predictive maintenance uses information from a variety of sensors that monitor a building's equipment in order to predict when the equipment will need to undergo maintenance. This is very useful for commercial properties where unexpected equipment failures can mean costly fixtures and inconvenience. By using predictive maintenance building managers can keep commercial activities running without disruption.
Another sensor trend is the use of smart building sensors for air quality measurement. It is known that that air quality can have a significant effect on productivity. In fact, the Environmental Health Perspectives recent study showed that efficiency increases by 101% in workers that work in an indoor space with good air quality than those who worked in a conventional building.
While sensors can be used to check air quality they can also be used to monitor carbon dioxide and the deadlier carbon monoxide in order to keep inhabitants happy and healthy.
Sensors are also becoming increasingly important in the construction industry where they can be used to minimize project delays by anticipating hazards and thereby reducing risks. In addition to this, by using IoT, it is now possible to remove outdated and cumbersome construction equipment with connected sensors. These sensors are controlled using a variety of gauges including temperature fluctuations and machine vibrations. Not only does this save companies money for maintenance costs it also saves energy.
In addition to the above, there are many other ways in which IoT sensors can be used to improve the construction of buildings. These include:
- Inspection and monitoring of equipment
- Managing material inventory
- Automatic ordering of tools and material.
- GPS tracking of onsite materials
- Improved safety and risk assessment.
However, the most important trend when it comes to the use of sensors in buildings is to monitor and control energy efficiency. The IoT allows different sensors to be used simultaneously and relay vital information back to the building manager. This means that the user can control the structure's environment, reducing carbon emissions by having a more energy-efficient building.
Sensors have been created to monitor and control the following aspects that have a large impact on building energy efficiency:
- Temperature control
- Lighting control
- Using sensors and actuators for HVAC control
- Offline and real-time communication using IoT
- Weather forecast and sensors to allow for immediate environment adaption