Suddenly, its not just the energy grid. Everything has to be smart.
Everything you ask?
Just for fun I entered random words along with “smart” into a Google search:
- Smart cameras? Yes.
- Smart glasses? Yes thanks to Google.
- Smart forks? Check.
- Smart fishing lures? They change color based on water conditions (I may actually look into this further)!
Is there anything left that is not smart?
Well, according to an article I reference in a presentation I make to analysts and investors, buildings are not smart. Granted, the article which is titled “Whats the Use of Having a Smart Grid Connected to Dumb Buildings?“ is about a year and a half old, but I can assure you the idea endures.
The point of the article is that buildings are inherently not smart because “…only 32 percent of building owners are involved in any kind of demand response today – and only 19 percent have any kind of automated connection to smart grid systems.”
Well, aside from the fact that buildings and fishing lures are clearly held to different standards when it comes to being seen as “smart,” there are a couple of things that bother me about this assumption.
First, it reinforces the false premise that some kind of additional equipment or sensor needs to be installed in a building to enable it to participate in demand response markets. The fact is most building automation systems installed over the last 15 years are fully capable of responding as needed when signaled properly. The problem is, this direct communication requires a deep technical and operational understanding of systems on both sides of the meter; and requires a more complex business model than “widget sales.” Few smart grid companies have both of these capabilities.
Second, as with many “smart” items, only a fraction of the features on a building control system are ever used. While I like the fact that the camera I bring to my kids swim meets can be manually optimized based on lighting, distance, speed, background, and a dozen other setting options; I just leave it on Auto and snap away. The same is true of many building automation systems that are sold on their potential but ultimately used as over qualified On/Off switches.
Buildings, by virtue of the control systems installed are already pretty smart. Perhaps what we really needed are smarter business models that can unlock the potential that already exists.