World renowned building science centre, BRE, has launched the Centre for Smart Homes and Buildings (CSHB) a collaborative hub for industry, academia and the government. Working with a range of partners, including EDF, BT and Telefonica, the CSHB will work to facilitate and improve the use of smart products and services within the built environment.
Smart home & building devices and systems have the potential to dramatically change the way we live and work, and their rapid evolution is driving advances in digital technology and data services. The scope of these changes presents both opportunities and challenges in the fields of energy, health and wellbeing, safety and security, connectivity and data privacy. The centre will provide an essential resource to provide clarity and support innovation within the construction industry.
The smart homes and buildings market was valued at excess of $22 bn in 2017, and is expected to grow rapidly [1, 2]. Experts predict that there will be more than 20 billion IoT-enabled devices by 2020, with a majority being linked to usage in homes and buildings.
With the increased impetus on housebuilding in the UK, many new build properties come with sensor-activated lighting, smartphone-controlled boilers and smart meters. Features which can help consumers to save money and energy and enable a more convenient lifestyle have demonstrated themselves as particularly popular. The entrance of Amazon Alexa and Google Home to the market paves the way for other voice-activated products to engage the industry. In commercial properties, there is a trend towards increased integration of building systems across shared networks and the addition of Internet of Things to existing Building Management Systems to enable additional functionality such as smarter facilities management, with exemplar smart buildings such as The Edge in Amsterdam emerging. These are the things the centre will be looking at with a specific focus on issues like performance, interoperability and connectivity to ensure that people can capitalise of the benefits that smart tech can bring.
A key feature of BRE’s new Centre for Smart Homes & Buildings is the Smart Home Lab, a house on the BRE site at Watford created to trial and test smart tech in a real setting. BRE are also trialling smart building technologies in their offices and developing small-scale city test beds across the site using Internet of Things (IoT) networks.
Currently being put to the test in the Smart Home Lab are a range of devices covering heating, energy use, safety and security, lighting and air quality. Scientists at BRE are also working with RNIB and others to look at how smart homes and buildings can best support independent living, helping older people and those with disability or chronic illness to live more independent lives both at home and work.
BRE would like to invite interested businesses to get in touch to explore how they can engage with the centre.
Dr. Martin Ganley, Director of Smart Homes and Buildings at BRE, comments, “Within the rapidly-growing smart home and building technology sector, the CSHB will play a vital role in providing clarity on the performance of devices and systems, ensuring that technology meets the needs of the end user, and in helping address emerging risks and common challenges.”
Ash Pocock, Head of Industry, Regulation and External Affairs for Smart Metering at EDF Energy, comments, “The BRE Centre for Smart Homes and Buildings provides an opportunity to help address issues which are common across industry, shaping policy, defining standards, supporting innovation and demonstrators. EDF Energy is proud to be a Gold Member of CSHB, as it seeks to address gaps and obstacles to progress, and the opportunity to deliver a more energy efficient home and building through connectivity and automation.”