Buildings at Microsoft headquarters get “smart” makeover

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it ” is one of the key organizing themes emphasized and often stated by C40 Chair, Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg.

So we were interested to read about a team of innovative Microsoft engineers that has developed a promising new software that improves building management systems and efficiency with potentially widespread applications, based on a recent blog post on their corporate website.

According to the report, cities in particular can benefit from observing how Microsoft achieved energy and cost savings through the use of new software. 

“Smart buildings will become smart cities,” said Darrell Smith, the team’s lead engineer and Microsoft’s director of facilities and energy. “And smart cities will change everything.”

In 1986, Microsoft’s headquarters comprised a four-building complex on 88 acres. As business grew rapidly, the company was forced to work with various contractors and construction schedules to quickly expand the headquarters. It is now the size of a small city, encompassing 125 buildings across 500 acres and nearly 42,000 employees. Unfortunately, the lack of comprehensive planning during development required that Microsoft use disparate building management systems to maintain the buildings’ 30,000 unconnected, sensor-enabled equipment — that is until Smith’s engineering team developed a data-driven software to identify opportunities for energy savings across the headquarters’ buildings.

The software receives and organizes data from thousands of building sensors tracking things like heaters, air conditioners, fans, and lights, providing deep insight into building performance and opportunities for improved efficiency. Moreover, engineers can often use the data to detect and fix problems from their high-tech dashboard that once required the attention of on-site technicians.

A test run of the program in 13 Microsoft buildings generated millions of dollars in saved energy, maintenance, and utility costs. With commercial buildings consuming an estimated 40 percent of the world’s total energy, the software’s potential for increased efficiency and emissions reduction is huge.

“Give me a little data and I’ll tell you a little,” said Smith. “Give me a lot of data and I’ll save the world.”

To read more about Microsoft’s innovative new software click here.