Tapping the billion-dollar smart building services market

Smart building technologies are raising the bar for what's possible in energy savings and efficiency improvements for managing commercial buildings.

Look no further than the newly constructed San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) headquarters. The 13-floor, $190-million design includes state-of-the-art smart building technologies using 55 percent less energy and consumes 32 percent less electrical demand than the ASHRAE baseline standard.

Not to be outdone, the U.S. General Services Administration recently awarded a contract to IBM to install and develop building-monitoring systems in 50 to 100 of the fed’s highest-energy-consuming buildings. Those systems -- expected to improve building energy efficiencies and save up to $15 million in taxpayer dollars annually -- would connect to a central facility using a cloud-based platform.

While smart building systems can indeed provide significant efficiency gains, their sophistication can prove to be challenging to a building’s operating or maintenance staff, said Eric Bloom, a senior analyst with Pike Research. As companies increasingly adopt next-generation building technologies for commercial energy management, the market to manage those building solutions will soon overtake investment in the technologies themselves.

As such, according to a new study by Pike Research, the need for managing services in automated building management systems is on pace to almost quadruple by the end of the decade, growing from $291 million this year to $1.1 billion by 2020.

The report calculates current spending on all smart building services, including data acquisition and analytics, as well as building maintenance contracts.

Next page: Competition for a billion dollar market