New technologies enable buildings to be self-aware and become intelligent enough to diagnostic, measure and repair themselves without human intervention. From building materials and solutions that locate and repair structural damage, to devices and sensors that can extract and process data about the health of a physical structure, self-awareness elevates the concept of smart buildings. The intelligence gathered from these solutions provides an integrated approach to manage energy levels, resource efficiency, security and sustainability. Major benefits are expected from integrating intelligence, control, materials and construction into an entire building system. However, challenges are also expected to arise when these smart solutions integrate into the management and control of a building, with a potential risk that derive from extracting awareness information and placing it into the cyber space.
The world is facing several challenges such as efficient energy management, need for economic growth, security and quality of life of its habitants. The increasing concentration of the world population into urban areas puts the cities in the center of attention and makes them important actors for the world’s sustainable development strategy. Given this trend, there is a need for more efficient, sustainable, and increased quality of life in the cities, in order to make them “smarter”. Smartness is directly proportional with the “awareness”. IIEE Explore (2003) People have the need to live in places where they can feel safe and comfortable. Building construction has evolved over time and adapted to environmental conditions. One example is climate change and its impact on modern construction. Scientists are constantly developing new construction techniques to make buildings not only safer, but also structurally better and more efficient. New technologies are expected to grow 34% annually over the next five years specially on building smart buildings. One of the most revolutionary ideas about the future of buildings is the self-awareness in new constructions, but what is self-awareness? Having self-awareness means that you have a realization of your personality including your strengths and weaknesses, your emotions and thoughts.
A Better Life, One Habit at a time, (2018). As you can realize by now, the buildings have no human conscience, so how does this work? This is a concept idea that scientists are researching now and it is basically an idea that buildings become intelligent enough to diagnostic, measure and repair themselves without human interaction. MIT is investigating new sensor technologies that can predict the movement of the earth before an earthquake happens. Such sensors will not only predict an earthquake, but also will measure the structural damage and stress in a building after the earthquake has passed and send all this data to the managers of the building to assess repairs and damages. This idea of self-awareness also includes the temperature control, air quality and water consumption. With the installation of these systems, the building can learn when the temperature needs to be increased or decreased according to number of people using the building. This can be self-controlled to decreased the temperature in the morning and decrease it during the night, which can result in a significant energy savings. These technologies will be capable to control the water usage and let people know when the AC needs maintenance, elevators needs to be cleaned and repaired, as well as plan for a management plan for the entire building. Hand by hand with the machine learning the smart buildings eventually will locate and repair structural damage.
Concrete brings a lot of trouble when start cracking or become exposure to chemicals and water. These cracks eventually grow and create a leaking problem that can corrode the steel. The self awareness in building structures can help with this problem also. Self-healing concrete is a concrete mixture with bacteria and microcapsules in the mix that when the water infiltrates; these bacteria germinate and interact with the concrete to create limestone. These plug the cracks avoiding the corrosion to take over the steel reinforcement. Constructible, (2017) Smart Buildings are way more than just self-correcting concrete and temperature control. This level of automation has many advantages like longer life span of the buildings, less maintenance and workforce to maintenance the building. Like all advancements, smart buildings provide several advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is the impact to the cost of owning and operating a building. The building is designed to learn the patterns and cost fluctuation of each individual system involved in day to day activity.
The building can learn when the occupants decrease and shut down illumination, air control, and unnecessary assets that are only needed to make people more comfortable in certain locations of the building. Tower Fasteners (2019) The system can also keep track and learn the maintenance cycles of equipment used in the building and notify management when there is a critical need workers must address. This would save money and create a safer work environment. As the system integrates itself into a smart electrical grid, it can track the fluctuating costs of electricity through the day and incorporate the data into its decision making to reach the lowest possible electrical costs for the building. Tower Fasteners (2019) The main disadvantage to a smart building is, of course, cyber security. When a company connects all devices in a system to a single control network, there is a risk of malicious users or outside persons to effectively hack into a building. The outcome of a successful hacker can range from fooling around with the lights to annoy the occupants to capturing critical information about the facility. Tower Fasteners (2019)
Self-awareness is definitely a movement to follow closely in the next years to come as will means optimization in the construction industry after the building is finish and can make the life of the building to extend beyond now. Regardless where of how soon these technologies can be implemented in the smart buildings the behavior of the buildings occupants have to change also together with these advantages. Smartness in buildings doesn’t just happen by adding the technology; after all this technology is to encourage smart human behavior to be better. Tower Fasteners (2019)