Carnegie Mellon And IBM Launch First Cloud-Based Analytics Partnership For Smarter Buildings

Posted on Mar 10 2015 - 3:05am by Brad Haddin

IBM today announced a new smarter buildings partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the first higher education institution to pioneer use of a new cloud-based analytics system for reducing energy and facility operating costs.

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The university expects to save approximately 10 percent on utilities, nearly $2 million annually, when the IBM system is fully deployed across 36 buildings on its Pittsburgh campus.

“On its own, the deployment of this technology will drive significant energy and operational savings with a very attractive return on investment. Just as important, improved building performance enhances the occupant experience and provides a much more effective education and research environment,” said Donald Coffelt, associate vice president for Carnegie Mellon University’s Facilities Management Services. “IBM is a clear leader in the field of advanced building analytics and facilities systems integration. This technology offers us important gains in initiatives related to advanced infrastructure systems research, the Pittsburgh 2030 initiative and a more proactive building and infrastructure management model.”

Buildings are expected to become the largest consumer of global energy by 2025, according to the National Science and Technology Council. Systems such as elevators, HVAC, lighting and alarms constantly report data across building networks. However, most organizations do not use the data as well as they could to monitor overall building performance, identify trends in building use, or improve customer satisfaction.

Carnegie Mellon University will address these challenges by using the new IBM Building Management Center delivered on the IBM SoftLayer cloud to monitor thousands of data points from building automation and control systems. The Building Management Center will also detect system problems such as simultaneous heating and cooling not identified by other means, and proactively trigger corrective actions.

The new technology will be piloted in nine buildings and then extended to 36 buildings across campus. The initial application of the Building Management Center will focus on HVAC systems and later will extend to lighting, water and other utilities. The system is scheduled for full implementation in about three years.

“IBM and Carnegie Mellon University share a commitment to innovation and a rich history of collaboration,” said Wayne Balta, vice president, IBM Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety. “Given CMU’s renown as a world leader in engineering and computer science, this new collaboration for smarter buildings is a natural fit. CMU recognized early on that a college campus shares several things in common with a city. Just as Smarter Cities are using data and analytics to improve diverse aspects of their operations, CMU will harness data and analytics delivered via cloud computing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of building management across campus. We’ve done this within IBM and know it to be good for our business as well as the environment.”

The Smarter Buildings Initiative supports CMU’s technology-enhanced education and research focus, as well as its commitment to sustainability. The initiative will connect with research already underway at the university’s Smart Infrastructure Institute, of which IBM is a founding partner, and the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. In addition, faculty and students affiliated with CMU’s multidisciplinary Metro21 initiative, which seeks to design and develop solutions affecting the economy and quality of life in metropolitan areas, are planning to use data generated from the Building Management Center in their research.

CMU’s work with IBM supports the university’s role as a founding partner in the Oakland expansion of the Green Building Alliance’s Pittsburgh 2030 District. Pittsburgh is one of just five U.S. cities to launch 2030 districts, which challenge partner organizations to achieve 50 percent reductions in energy use, water consumption and transportation-related emissions by the year 2030.

The IBM Building Management Center solution is a pre-built solution delivered as a service using IBM’s powerful analytics and asset management capabilities and IBM Global Business Services expertise. The cloud infrastructure connects seamlessly and privately to on-premise sources of data from building systems. It also provides visibility and access for the best performance, scalability and control with the required security.

“This is the newest in a series of cloud-based Smarter Cities management centers including transportation, water and emergency management designed to help organizations quickly begin using their own data for new insight and improved decision making,” said Michael Dixon, general manager, IBM Smarter Cities. The Building Management Center is designed for both public and private sector buildings and campuses of all sizes. It delivers a new level of understanding of building assets and energy usage with unprecedented flexibility.”

IBM has established a deep portfolio of Big Data and Analytics technology that spans research and development, solutions and software. IBM has invested $24 billion to build its capabilities in Big Data and Analytics through R&D and more than 30 acquisitions. Today, more than 15,000 analytics consultants, 6,000 industry solution business partners and 400 IBM mathematicians are helping clients use big data to transform their organizations.

About Carnegie Mellon University:

Carnegie Mellon ( is a private, internationally ranked university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small faculty-to-student ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real world problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon’s campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California’s Silicon Valley, Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico.