Far more than merely an Internet of Things, the new building management system is programmed to automatically allocate resources, under changing conditions, at the highest level of efficiency, limited by individualized management rules.

Michael Leahey Managing director, PACE Equity, Denver

The commercial property of the future, like its residential cousins, will be a building with which you can have a two-way conversation, incorporating each subsystem of a whole building system. A simple analogy to this is Alexa, the best-known brand in “smart home” consumer system, designed to integrate and manage all of a home’s systems. Within the next few years you may find yourself asking some version of, “Alexa – what’s our return on investment?”

Imagine a building owner who had someone on staff who knew everything going on in your buildings – down to the level of energy usage, foot traffic, maintenance requests, etc. – and had the authority to make real-time, cost-saving decisions and recommendations of future opportunities to owners and managers – instantly. Most building owners would hire that person in a second. As you may have guessed, this all-knowing staff member isn’t human, but is intelligent – artificial intelligence has come to commercial real estate and is poised to create major changes in the way we do business.

On the commercial side, building management systems have existed for decades – I started my career in 1999 helping design them – but the new wave of intelligent buildings will be different. Not simply “smart” (by which we mean internet enabled), they are guided by artificial intelligence, with each building system connected to the cloud and to each other through applications, along with dozens of sensors providing unprecedented amounts of data, and machine-learning algorithms to gather and analyze it all.

Far more than merely an Internet of Things, the new BMS is programmed to automatically allocate resources, under changing conditions, at the highest level of efficiency, limited by individualized management rules – such as the tradeoff between cost and comfort. Commercial building systems that have, or will have, intelligent building applications include heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, lighting, windows, appliances, locks, electronic vehicle chargers, rainwater recycling, as well as other energy-saving subsystems such as energy storage devices.

There are three important takeaways for building owners and property managers:

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