Buildings are a central part of our daily life. Most of our activities take place in a building. Just as the occupants having individual expectations on, e.g., room comfort or energy efficiency, almost all buildings are unique – especially with respect to building automation functionality, electrification, HVAC, and sustainability of the building.
Other domains like grid interaction, local power generation, e-mobility or campus-wide energy optimization become even tighter connected to the building as central aggregator of digital information – and therefore also to the building automation and energy management system, which has to integrate all those additional aspects.
This individuality causes a high complexity and, consequently, high lifecycle costs: An individual building automation system is costly to plan, to engineer, to install, and to operate. Various available technologies, devices, vendors, etc. typically have to be integrated with each other, e.g., in commercial buildings like hotels, offices or schools further increase complexity. All stakeholders expect, however, simpler interaction and increased autonomy of smart buildings, as well as higher comfort and energy efficiency.
For the future, we expect smart buildings being highly interconnected using various technologies, being flexible and customizable over their lifetime, offering modular and open platforms, and easy to use integrated services especially with respect to automation and energy management. Stakeholder demands are time-efficiency, simplicity, energy optimization, and investment protection in a fast-changing and attractive market.
Therefore, key research topics in building automation are integrated connectivity making information continuously accessible and understandable, advanced sensing providing the right data at the right time, electrification and grid applications targeting increased user value, and machine learning and artificial intelligence making use of available data, e.g., to increase comfort or optimize energy management.