How a Building’s Digital Twin Combined with AI Can Improve Efficiency, Security & Performance

Posted by Brian Thumann on

A building's digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical building that can be used to simulate and analyze the building's performance in various scenarios. Digital twins use data from sensors, building management systems, and other sources to accurately represent the building's characteristics, such as its layout, systems, and materials.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to help manage a building's digital twin by analyzing the data from the digital twin and identifying opportunities to increase energy efficiency, optimize systems performance, and improve building occupancy comfort.

For example, AI algorithms can be used to analyze the data from a building's HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system to identify patterns and trends that could indicate opportunities for energy savings. AI can also be used to monitor the performance of other building systems, such as lighting usage and security weak points, to identify potential issues and optimize their performance.

Building information modeling (BIM) has become an increasing option for professionals. The nonprofit, membership society ASHRAE offers a certification designed for the Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP). AI driven security firms such as Knightscope and Boston Dynamics have commercialized AI driven robotic solutions to enhance security, provide data, and integrate into existing buildings and critical infrastructure protection protocols. A UK based company, Aroid, has developed an AI based solution, Aroid AI, which operates in real-time to adjust building systems e.g. HVAC to reduce utility bills and the associated carbon footprint. The company states their offering can be done as a shared savings model (Note: any company mentioned is for informational purposes only and not an endorsement of one company or technology over another). 

In addition, AI can be used to analyze data from sensors that measure factors such as temperature, humidity, and indoor air quality to identify opportunities to improve building occupancy comfort, reduce pathogens and increase productivity. For example, AI algorithms can be used to optimize the temperature and humidity levels in a building to create a more comfortable environment for occupants.

Security is an increasing concern for building owners, property managers, businesses large and small, employees and customers. Artificial intelligence combined with a facility’s digital twin can help security teams and risk assessment managers pinpoint weak spots and areas that need security enhancements. Companies such as Knightscope and Boston Dynamics have introduced robotic solutions to the marketplace that can integrate with existing protection protocols to help reduce security incidents and protect both people and properties.

Overall, the use of AI to manage a building's digital twin can help building managers improve the efficiency and performance of their buildings, leading to cost savings and a more comfortable environment for building occupants. Building owners, operators, managers, and facility professional can leverage their building as an asset and possibly use AI to find energy savings on a share savings basis rather than buying upfront software and systems. The digital twin also allows for modeling “what if” situations that may be routine adjusts or non-routine to see the impacts on building usage and shutting off or turning down underutilized s systems. AI has made great strides and can be a powerful tool to help lower energy costs, improve a facility’s operation, avoid maintenance issues, enhance security, and maximize the system’s optimization.