Smarter Than The Average Bear

I like nature shows. The behavior of animals in the wild isn’t that much different from how my dog acts. I admire biologists’ attempts to learn about their subjects. They are always putting radio collars or tags on whales, polar bears, and waterfowl to track their migration patterns.polar_bear
   Then I got to thinking. What if humans wore such tags? What would be the ramifications? The answer came the other day as I was talking with Clay Nesler, Johnson Control’s vice president for global energy and sustainability. He described how his company’s technology is being used by corporations to re-configure office space.
   Here’s the short explanation: Employee ID badges are outfitted with RFID transmitters, which can be analyzed for all sorts of data, including: daily attendance, where an employee spends his time, with whom, and for how long. Is the employee working at his desk alone? Or, is he collaborating with co-workers in a meeting room? Or, is he on the road three weeks out of four?
   By crunching the numbers, facility managers can see where the under-used space is in an office building. I was told they typically would find 10% to 20% savings. So, if a company is planning to hire (it could happen), it won’t have to move to a larger building. Or, if it is planning to move, it can use this employee-tracking data to find the right-sized building. For a company really interested in reducing its carbon footprint, the greenest things it can do are use less space or make the most of what it already has.
   I might have stretched a bit in equating office workers with polar bears. Still, the point is the same: better decisions with better information based on real-time data.
   Last month, IBM and Johnson Controls (JCI) announced a joint Smart Building Solution to improve building operations and to reduce energy and water consumption. This solution is suitable for large buildings as well as for portfolios of smaller buildings, like stores in a shopping center, or classrooms on a college campus.  IBM is integrating its Tivoli and Maximo software with JCI’s Metasys, EnNet, energy and emissions, and other building management systems. Taken together, a building owner can address building performance in systems integration, energy management, enterprise reporting, space utilization, and asset management.
   Here’s one more example. Nesler told me how the Smart Building Solution uses real-time data to anticipate problems and generate work orders automatically to correct situations. For instance, the system can tell a building engineer to change a filter now because it is the optimal time instead of waiting for the scheduled-maintenance guess-timate.
   JCI already has deployed the technology in 1.5 billion square feet of real estate that it manages worldwide, Nesler said. That’s a lot of energy to be saved and greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced. If this keeps the polar bears up in the Arctic, I’m all for that. —Jim Carper

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