IBM PULSE2012: Smarter Buildings

Smart buildings can not only conserve energy and gas, but reduce operation costs, improve safety systems and inform the use of space. IBM’s Maximo Asset Management software also streamlines work and capacity planning and reduces costs.

Dave Bartlett, VP of Industry Solutions, IBM, describes smart building benefits as crossing industry boundaries. Making buildings smarter, regardless of business sector, involves similar challenges but different issues.

Three smart building projects illustrate this diversity:

The Louvre: Europe’s First Smarter Museum

The Louvre is home to thousands of world-famous works of art, and its staff handles more than 65,000 repairs and maintenance calls each year in order to preserve and protect these items. Its goal is to keep its doors open daily while maintaining the proper environment, a difficult proposition as Europe’s most-visited museum with 8.8 million visitors in 2011.

The first order of business was to computerize its maintenance processes, eliminating paper and speeding response time by creating a single information database. A constant temperature and specific lighting is particularly important to preserving artwork and the Louvre has more than 2,500 doors to monitor. Each separate system talks to the others, providing real-time information about each asset (lighting, doors, air conditioning, etc.) so staff can not only see issues that need to be addressed, but predict where issues will arise.

“Buildings are massive systems of systems, and these systems need to talk to each other for a building to become smarter,” said Metin Pelit, department manager of computerized maintenance management system at The Louvre. Bartlett adds, “Technology today can make it possible to ‘listen’ to the abundance of information from buildings. The Louvre has created a fabric of intelligence to better manage and preserve their art and infrastructure for the world to enjoy.”

U.S. Air Force: Improving Government Building Performance

IBM has just begun to partner with the United States Air Force to work to reduce its energy costs throughout its infrastructure across 170 locations, including 626 million square feet of real estate, over 100 million square yards of airfield pavement and 10 million acres of land. IBM’s approach includes optimizing building use and lease administration, implementing energy assessment tools, and better management of property and equipment.

Los Angeles School District: Crowdsourcing to Create Greener, Smarter Campuses

IBM’s new project with the L.A. school district empowers teachers, students and administrators alike to report maintenance issues like broken air conditioners and leaky faucets via text message using an app developed by IBM. The school district is the second largest in the U.S. spanning 14,000 buildings, 710 square miles, and serves more than 700,000 students. The district receives more than 300,000 maintenance requests a year, consuming a large amount of time and resources. “Each year we found we were spending too much time, money and energy locating and reporting a problem before we even had the chance to fix it,” says Danny Lu, Business Analyst, L.A. Unified School District. “By finding a more efficient way to report and locate needed repairs, we are able to respond faster to serve our campuses. The best part is that the solution is at the fingertips of most everyone on campus.”

By involving everyone on campus, students and staff become more invested in their surroundings and apt to report issues resulting in cleaner, safer and more efficient schools and communities. “People now have the ability to act as living sensors for things they witness in their day-to-day lives,” Bartlett said. “Through these partnerships, we are arming people with the ability to report problems that impact the efficiency of an ecosystem such as cities, buildings and campuses. And, through IBM analytics, we enable organizations to act on information that will make them more efficient and successful.”


Full disclosure: Andrea was a contract consultant for IBM from 1997-1999, and was a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers when it was purchased by IBM. IBM paid for travel costs to attend PULSE2012. @anewell3p

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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