By Guest Author: Francisco Ruiz, Director of IoT, HQ, Oracle
Experiencing the evolution of smart buildings over the last decade has been exciting. As companies strive to define their technological strategies for innovation, aligning those with company goals creates a true organizational mission. Thus begins the journey to the best smart building strategies.
At Oracle, the vision is to be a leader in global real estate and facilities performance, best practices, innovation, and proactive strategic planning. Our IoT strategy aligns well with that vision. To quote Stephen R. Covey, we began strategy development with "the end in mind."
The Path to IoT
Oracle Real Estate and Facilities (RE&F) fosters an environment where diverse, results-oriented team members with proven track records filled with a rich history of industry experience spanning MEP, sustainability, IoT and facilities can collaborate, innovate, and follow their passions that contribute to the company's triple bottom line. The belief that systems and technology could help us understand how our buildings were performing is deep-rooted in our DNA. With a data-driven approach, we were confident that algorithms could be created that could automatically feed back to the system and continuously optimize performance while quantifying and validating financial savings. In today's connected environment, we believe that a derivative of the ‘butterfly effect' is valid for building operations and an important part of our strategy. For example, an employee's alarm clock at home could signal the start of a building chiller, VAVs, etc. – our strategy began with "the end in mind."
So we began our journey, in which IoT was initially a tool to help understand the performance of our buildings. W. Edwards Deming famously said, "It is wrong to suppose that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it – a costly myth." The data gathered has provided us with a means to justify our costs, validate our performance, and continuously improve our operation. It has supported many achievements including multiple LEED and Energy Star certifications, Carbon Disclosure Project A-List ratings and various other third-party recognitions.
Third party recognition raises the profile of the program and has the unintended, and typically difficult to quantify, consequence of allowing an enterprise to enjoy the green glow of sustainability. As our buildings performed better, we also benefited from an improved occupant experience by enhancing their comfort, safety, security, and convenience. Additional technologies such as occupancy sensors already included in our lighting controls had the secondary value of providing space utilization data, helping us right-size our portfolio and build spaces that people really use. This continued pursuit of value and innovation using IoT has helped us achieve our goals of contributing to a healthier planet and reducing impact on natural resources. This had an additional effect of a reduction of operating costs and increased profits through improved operating efficiencies.
We didn't get there overnight by trying to monitor every piece of equipment or initiating various pilots of fault detection analytics, artificial intelligence, or other more advanced topics. Instead, we began simply by executing proven methods that many of our teams were familiar and experienced with. This included Energy Star benchmarking, which is naturally complimented by electrical, gas, and water sub metering, thus allowing us to maximize the value of fundamental IoT sensors. This additional instrumentation provided measurable data on performance and anomalies. The resulting insights led to the refinement of an IoT strategy that included the creation of a global IoT team that reports into Real Estate & Facilities, and partners directly with IT and Security to guide IoT implementation and adoption.
Several projects were performed at our existing headquarters campus in Redwood City and our Santa Clara Campus, which were built in the nineties. LEED and Energy Star certification were important first steps on our journey. We constructed two LEED gold certified smart buildings at our historic Santa Clara, California campus and equipped many buildings at our HQ with various levels of sub metering and optimized BMS programming, updated lighting controls, fixtures and lamps. Included in these projects was the Design Tech High School, which is a Smart Building that represents the first public high school to be built on a corporate campus and allows Real Estate and Facilities to share our sustainability and technology experiences with the future leaders of our world. We also integrated multiple campuses into our centralized master systems integration platform allowing us to benchmark across multiple buildings and campuses for analysis, continuous commissioning, measurement and verification – and ultimately allowing us to sustain efficiency and share portfolio information with internal stakeholders.
Our smart building projects provide us direct access to state-of-the-art office and lab equipment, including space utilization info, BMS, lighting, energy, water, automated window tinting, shades and fire alarms. By leveraging IoT automation, the buildings can dynamically operate HVAC, lighting and shades. They also provide planning teams with insights into space utilization patterns. The success of this project was largely due to the collaborative and integrated approach to project delivery, and the technologies that were included at the design stage – critical for best results.
We're digitally transforming our portfolio and democratizing actionable information across the organization in a secure and scalable manner using IoT. The success of the program is dependent on collaboration between all staff that represents Real Estate, IT, physical and information security, energy, IoT, sustainability and our respected partners.
Establishing a Roadmap for Innovation
If you don't already have a program to support technology within real estate, here are a few recommendations and considerations:
(1) Identify champions at many levels in the enterprise; foster communications with those champions. They must have a passion about technology, a belief in its power, and the courage to push for change.
(2) Strategy starts with practical solutions: what problems you are trying to solve and the results you want to achieve.
(3) Communication and partnership between real estate, IT and security leadership teams must be established.
(4) Determine your data security requirements and select a cybersecurity framework.
(5) Develop a technology specification to help you define selection criteria of features, security, protocols, integration, point naming standards, and potential data lake strategies.
(6) Be involved in the commissioning process, which is critical in achieving accurate data produced by IoT.
(7) Create standard operating procedures that will help support the development of playbooks.
I recommend incorporating these considerations into your planning, processes, and solution selection before you begin to pilot more advanced topics like analytics, fault detection, and AI. Establishing the fundamentals and sound practices leads to a successful foundation to aid your IoT journey.
The bottom line is that you have to determine what a smart building means to you and your company. With so many different technologies available, and ways to architect and secure them, the best plan helps you drive forward in a unified manner, rather than piloting disparate technologies. There's a lot to consider, but it's simpler than it sounds when you begin with "the end in mind."
As the Director of IoT, HQ for Real Estate and Facilities at Oracle, Francisco Ruiz is responsible for partnering with global teams to help design, secure and guide the implementation of enterprise IoT Energy Solutions. Prior to Oracle, he consulted various Real Estate teams utilizing IoT for continuous improvement and sustainable business operations including Adobe, GSA, eBay, PayPal and NASA. He is active on various industry boards and organizations which supports his continuous pursuit of the most energy efficient and sustainable technologies.