India Braces Up for an Era of Intelligent Buildings
The word “intelligent” seems to be the most used nowadays. From “intelligent” TVs to washing machines to even buildings, it is one term that seems to chase us wherever we go. With India being in the midst of its biggest ever construction spree, it is not surprising that the country has emerged as a key global market for “intelligent” buildings. Among the various types of technologies and concepts that have made their entry into the construction industry, the current favorite seems to be integrated building automation systems (IBAS). These systems, to put it in simple terms, are effective tools that help in reducing operational cost of buildings, with respect to energy costs and help to increase productivity by providing a safe and optimum work environment for the employees, while also helping reducing other variable costs in operating a particular facility. The spurt in construction activities in the country, especially in the commercial real estate sector, has meant that IBAS or in other words Building Management Systems (BMS) is the buzzword among the construction fraternity. While the concept in itself may be still at a nascent stage in India, there is no doubting its potential, given the huge anticipated growth in construction of commercial real estate in the country.

Contrary to popular perception, building automation systems have been in existence for well over three decades now, albeit in a different form. For example, the opening and closing of water pipe valves manually for enabling flow of heated water is a good example of a building management system that has been existence since the 1970s. However, it is only in the late 1990s that terms such as BMS and IBAS were coined, with the entry of specialized software packages which were tailor made for the purpose. The modern day IBASs in their earlier incarnation were basically electromechanical systems. These systems were usually part of the display at facilities management offices, where the operators could see a series of lights that would indicate to them about the working of the various components in the system. Another interesting development in the field has been the gradual emergence of the concept of “intelligent cities” from that of “intelligent buildings”. A good example for the concept can be had in the form of Masdar City, being developed as a zero carbon city on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in Dubai. The city would consist of a series of intelligent buildings which would be controlled from a central control room. The Songdo International Business District or Songdo IBD as it is being popularly referred to these days near Seoul, South Korea is another example for a smart city. The city that is scheduled for completion in 2015 will consist of a whopping 80,000 apartments 50,000,000 sq.ft of office space and 10,000,000 sq.ft of retail space, making it the largest private real estate development in history.