Your office building may soon know more about you than your
colleague next door. The introduction of "smart grid"
technology is enabling workspaces to identify the person at the
station as an individual and set the lighting and temperature
Buildings get smart by hooking up wireless-connected devices to
their existing grids. Not only is this convenient for employees, it
also offers cost-savings to owners and reduces the building's
carbon footprint. Lights and HVAC systems — which, when
combined, form the largest portion of building expenses and
wasteful energy consumption – are controlled remotely or
completely autonomously. Essentially, these services turn on (or
off) when a room is entered or a device used.
However, the acceptable use of technology begs the question of
legal compliance. Building code regulations and municipal bylaws
could affect the implementation of building automation and new
developments must yield to existing standards – for example,
the City of Toronto's green roof bylaw. These considerations
will need to be addressed in advance of any project engagement.
Where such technological investment in building analytics has
been implemented, managers of commercial real estate portfolios
have enjoyed operating cost savings and energy efficiency. For
instance, Proctor & Gamble ("P&G") recently
invested in smart building management technology in a test group of
laboratories, offices and manufacturing facilities. P&G saw a
first-year average energy savings of 10% and their initial
investment in the technology was returned within the first three
months after launching the initiative. Microsoft has joined the
movement with the launch of its "CityNext" portal –
a website offering a variety of products (including the forecasting
of building system data to drive efficiency and reduce operating
costs) intended to "create healthier, greener and more
prosperous communities." To add fuel to the fire, research
released by ON World Inc. on September 30, 2013, claims that by
2019, shipments of wireless sensor devices to non-residential
buildings will reach 100 million, an increase of over 1100% from
So if your work station takes the night off while you're on
the couch enjoying your latest read, don't be surprised,
it's learning too.
Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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