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IBM Launches Building IT; Cuts Energy Use ‘Up to 40%’

IBM today launched its Intelligent Building Management software, which the IT company estimates can reduce maintenance costs by 10 to 30 percent, and cut energy usage by up to 40 percent.

The company has also announced that the platform, which it beta-released earlier this year, is already in use at Tulane University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and IBM’s own campus in Rochester, Minn.

IBM says that the software offers a comprehensive view of energy and facility operations with real-time energy management and performance optimization through end-to-end visibility.

It works by collecting real-time data and events from sensors on boilers, air ducts, lights, water pipes, chillers, computer rooms, and external temperature monitors, as well as from building management systems.  The software lets users drill down into details such as a building’s microclimates and the functioning of specific boilers, and also scale out to see enterprise-wide metrics.

The software links with leading building-management systems such as Johnson Controls Metasys and Siemens APOGEE software and will be integrated with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure energy management architecture on July 1. The ExoStruxure portfolio covers five domains of business expertise: power, data centers, process and machines, building control and physical security.

IBM says its new software helps to pinpoint costly repairs, prioritize and then automate work-orders for maintenance staff. This helps companies to move from scheduled maintenance to “just-in-time” predictive maintenance based on real-time performance, IBM says.

The software uses a set of analytical rules to detect anomalies, such as if the energy profile of an air-handling unit is deviating from normal trends. Other ways the analytics can help control energy use include:

  • Flagging outlying behavior such as the concurrent use of heating and air conditioning, or the use of heat when the external temperature is over a preset threshold;
  • Pinpointing potential mechanical malfunctions causing inefficiencies in equipment, such as an air-handling unit working overtime; and
  • Providing metrics of a site’s overall energy use to test and benchmark the efficiency of energy-saving techniques.

The IBM campus in Rochester, Minn., comprising three million square feet across 35 inter-connected buildings, has realized eight percent energy savings from implementing the new software at just a portion of the site.

Meanwhile, Tulane University’s School of Architecture has started using Intelligent Building Management to create a “smarter building living laboratory” in the 100-year-old Richardson Memorial Hall (pictured).

Tulane suffered more than $650 million in damages and losses in Hurricane Katrina, and since then has been striving to rebuild in a sustainable way. It is planning to use its IBM implementation at Richardson to teach the next generation of architects how historic buildings can be efficiently adapted for modern use.

This year IBM acquired Tririga, Inc., to add real-estate management and analysis of utility costs and carbon management to its smarter buildings portfolio.

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