While the smart home has become a trend, adding “smart” to commercial buildings has lagged behind, finding proponents for only a few categories of automation: HVAC (heating ventilating, air conditioning), lighting, access control, and fire and safety. According to ABI Research, new emerging applications in space management, environmental monitoring, asset management, and cleanliness and hygiene management are being offered as either standalone solutions or to augment existing building automation systems for improved building sustainability. Together, these new solutions will grow at 32% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) during the next eight years to create $2 billion in software and services revenues by 2026.

Space-management solutions are being engineered with a variety of sensors, including contact, motion, and occupancy. Implemented in office buildings, space management is becoming more useful in larger commercial buildings, such as airports or stadiums. Environmental monitoring consists of sensors that monitor noise levels, air quality, and natural lighting systems. These solutions monitor realtime conditions of areas within buildings and the conditions in each room to improve overall occupant wellness and comfort.

Asset-management solutions are becoming increasingly important within specific commercial buildings, especially healthcare entities. The use of asset management helps hospitals improve their inventory management, lower operational costs, and automate the clinical inventory processes. Cleanliness and hygiene management is a newer solution for the smart building market. Companies such as GP (Georgia Pacific) and Kimberly Clarke are offering intelligent systems to run restrooms more efficiently. GP’s restocking systems use sensors that send alerts when soap and paper dispensers are running low.

As the smart building market evolves, the ecosystem is no longer limited to the traditional vendors of HVAC, lighting, access control, and fire and life safety solutions, the core applications of BMS (building-management systems). Now it includes the OEMs (original-equipment management) of consumables and construction materials adding complementary IoT (Internet of Things) solutions.

According to ABI Research, newer suppliers, most with wireless offerings, can more easily sell into the untapped market of older and smaller buildings. This won’t necessarily change the focus of the traditional BMS vendors, but their competitiveness will be greatly diminished if their systems are not interoperable with solutions from newer suppliers.  In this more complex supplier market with more applications, interoperability will be what differentiates all market participants.

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