Reimagining the Building Space as a Strategic Asset

Reimagining the Building Space as a Strategic Asset

This piece was originally published in the June 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Laurent Vernerey, President, Acuity Brands Technology and Executive Vice President, Acuity Brands, Inc.

In 1879, Thomas Alva Edison emerged with his incandescent light bulb, but it wasn’t the first. Rather, it was an improvement on Warren de la Rue’s light bulb from 50 years earlier. Lighting continues to evolve, from bulbs to luminaires to today’s light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Traditionally, building and real estate holdings are categorized as a current or fixed asset. Instead, what if a building could be an intangible asset, one aligned with the trajectory of a digital business strategy? The key is to reimagine a building as a strategic asset that contributes to the bottom line, instead of as a cost center.

Lighting’s inherent physical infrastructure makes it the ideal platform for connected building systems and for realizing the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT). Digital lighting systems provide a foundational role to map indoor spaces. It can be connected to HVAC controls and other edge devices to create a sensory network capable of capturing rich spatial and occupancy data. By converting to energy-efficient LED systems, a building’s operations can realize an immediate cost savings that continues to provide positive ROI while delivering even more valuable IoT applications.


© 2018 Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. All rights reserved.

Steps to Creating Building Value

Lighting as the basis for an IoT platform has several components. At the base level of the technology stack, physical infrastructure connects lighting, HVAC, security, and power systems. The next step integrates sensors and controls to measure occupancy and energy supplied as well as provide demand response. To be competitive, a facility needs to look beyond these simple connections. By adding a wired or wireless network, telephony, and apps, the building starts to create business value such as location-based services.

Moving further up the technology stack requires an IT infrastructure to provide software, storage, and security. Implementing steps one through four makes it possible to create services such as consulting, maintenance, and software as a service—creating a digitally enabled, connected, and IoT building. Top-down entrants in the smart building space are learning how IoT can benefit a business in addition to how the building benefits from IoT infrastructure. Ignoring the foundation of proper building hardware results in not realizing LED lighting’s contribution to IoT ROI and a diminished IoT infrastructure, which could include sporadic sensor placement and high-maintenance battery management.

The sensory network provided by the combined IoT technology offering will impact not only the building but the occupants and the business as well. When combined with a building’s data, the aggregate insights from indoor positioning can be utilized for wayfinding, smart service, individual comfort settings, and business improvements. What would Thomas Edison think of lighting’s evolution today?

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