An intelligent core instead of an empty shell - this is how buildings become smart

    Information and instructions can be called up at any time, automatic recognition and intervention of building technology on defined occasions - this can considerably simplify a number of processes in building management.

    For years, the degree of networking and automation in the building sector has been rising sharply. For this to happen, building technology is producing more and more data through various sensors, among other things. The equipment and systems that process this data in turn communicate with each other - through the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). Once the data has been collected and forwarded, the next step requires actuators to perform certain actions, such as regulating heating and lighting. In a smart building, the goal is to network all the IT solutions available in the building and also to integrate as many technical trades as possible (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology (HVAC systems), lighting, shading, security technology, etc.). Ideally, this is already considered during the planning stage, but existing buildings can also be retrofitted with appropriate sensor technology in machines and systems - for example, in the course of a general overhaul. Older and used systems can thus be kept up to date with the latest communication technology.

    On the way to a smart building, the collection of operating data is one thing. But turning big data into smart data requires expertise. Interpreting data correctly and making it usable in the first place is an art in itself, and the benefits are also very diverse. According to Sebastian Stratbücker of the Department of Energy Efficiency and Indoor Climate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, the central information node in the smart building is the "digital twin. This represents an image of a real building or process that is as consistent as possible and is based on Building Information Modeling (BIM), which has already been in use for several years. The added value of the digital twin is that, unlike BIM, it not only transfers planning data to operations for better availability, but also provides up-to-date building data to optimize operations. Sebastian Stratbücker explains the benefits of combining fixed data with real-time information like this:

    "In addition to the building structure, the digital twin also represents its structural-physical and energetic behavior under the influence of the outdoor climate, the building use and the control and regulation of components of the technical building equipment. This creates the prerequisites for optimal and trouble-free building operation. This is because deviations between actual and expected system behavior can be detected by combining simulation on the digital twin and measurement on the real building."

    Another advantage is that the digital twin grows with the building. It is created during planning, developed further and used throughout the entire life cycle of the building. To do this, the right IT solutions must be provided so that the database can always be fed from all sources and kept up to date. Thus, the digital twin is not only an image of the actual status quo of the building, but also carries its history. Anomalies can be identified by reverting to measured values, operating states and changes to the building, as well as by comparing them with the current data situation. This makes it easier for building managers and operators to take countermeasures and ensure stable operation. This also enables needs-based maintenance and servicing using predictive models.

    For Stratbücker, the added value for facility management is obvious: "A digital twin serves property owners and operators as a basis for decision-making and provides its users with a deeper understanding of the system.