The University of Sheffield’s Diamond building was designed to be a ’Smart Building’. As such, it contains approximately three thousand sensors which report data about the Diamonds internal environment, including temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, seat occupancy, lighting and heating status to a database called a Building Management System (BMS). Given the quantity of data recorded in the Diamond’s BMS, simplex numerical figures of the building’s environment are difficult to understand. With that, understanding the optimum working conditions of the Diamond or diagnosing system faults are hard to comprehend, which can result in an uncomfortable and inefficient building environment.
The building’s constructors produced a highly detailed computerised model of the Diamond, known as Building Information Model (BIM). This project aims to combine the model from the BIM with the past and present data available in the BMS through 3D graphical visualisations via Virtual Reality (VR). This is done in the hope to improve the understanding of the Diamond’s internal environmental data. From the author’s research, such a graphical and interactive system for a Smart Building BMS is not known to previously exist in the world.
This project has designed an interactive system that graphically simulates the internal environment of two unique rooms within the Diamond, by combining data from the Diamond’s BMS database with an optimised version of the Diamond’s BIM. By observing from a computer screen or a VR headset, users can visualise snapshots of the room’s environment or watch an animation displaying the changes in a room’s environment over time. The application was evaluated by anonymous participants and staff from the University of Sheffield’s Estates & Facilities Management (EFM) department, who completed a survey after demonstrating it first-hand. It was found that the implemented system successfully improved the understanding of the Diamond’s internal environment. For users with and without technical experience in building management, it facilitated their identification of trends in the environment’s behaviour over time and improved the efficiency in diagnosing physical building faults.
A link to the final paper can be found here. Thanks for reading!