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IBcon 2023 Recap: Introducing Acuity Brands’ Portfolio for Intelligent Spaces

Through Acuity Brands’ Intelligent Spaces Group, a combination of software, sensors, and controls helps built environments get smarter, safer, and greener.

Smarter, Safer, Greener Outcomes for Customers

What a show! Last week, I had fun joining our Atrius and Distech Controls teams at IBcon in Las Vegas, one of the largest conferences focused on building automation. Over three days, we shared our vision of smarter, safer, greener spaces, with commercial real estate portfolio owners, end customers, and systems integrators.  

We started the week by unveiling our updated suite of Atrius software applications, platformed atop of Atrius DataLab. All of these apps drive inference to inform downstream Distech Controls. With DataLab in particular, we offered a peek at how we’re collecting data across lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and other building workflows to create an independent data layer (IDL) with open-standards, cloud-oriented approach. This is our chance to help Acuity Brands’ customers improve their learning from built environments, and then save money and improve outcomes with predictive maintenance that we discussed at IBCon.  

As the week wrapped, I began thinking about our ongoing dialogues with friends and colleagues, and more broadly what we can do today, as an industry, to reach that tantalizing future of truly automated and sustainable buildings. Technology can play an enormous role when 40% of emissions come from the buildings we occupy, and when we all see untapped potential to digitize analog systems, connect them for faster and more remote management, and convert that to lower financial and environmental costs. 

What did I learn at this year’s event?

4 Big Takeaways from IBcon 2023

1. Artificial intelligence is coming to the buildings industry

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and the training of new large-language models (LLMs) has obviously swept big tech. Companies like Nvidia, AMD, Supermicro, and Microsoft have begun riding the wave to understand how AI can drive better outcomes for their businesses. We’ve seen companies leverage this technology to improve how they build products, develop code, bring solutions to market, or even service products and customers post-sale.  

At IBcon, I saw these same conversations beginning to influence how our customers and partners view the buildings industry. Surrounding some of the most modern spaces is a largely antiquated industry where average buildings are equipped with less technology than your everyday car. The message is clear, it’s time we rethink how we manage buildings.

Spotlight: Atrius Sustainability, a full carbon accounting and emissions reporting tool: 
One of the biggest challenges facing sustainability managers is the never-ending complexity and evolving landscape of sustainability reporting. While we accomplished our first goal of simplifying the process around sustainability reporting as much as possible, we knew there was more we could do to truly accelerate our customer’s path to net zero.  

Atrius Sustainability is now integrated with LLMs directly into our product. Through our interactive chatbot, we guide customers through every step when building their emissions reports. This gives our customers a faster path to building their reports and more time they can devote to strategic ways of reaching their corporate sustainability goals.  

And this is just the beginning. As one partner told me, “As you learn more about building topologies with Atrius software, you can feed the insights directly into the Distech Controls solutions to improve building operations and save labor!” We’re only at the beginning of this revolution.

2. Edge will be bigger than the cloud

Even as the tech industry rushes to train new AI models on existing text, another source of massive, largely analog, disorganized, and rich learning material remains in the world: That is the edge. At ISG, when we think about all the different customers we serve, from airports to hotels to commercial office buildings to big-box retailers to schools and government offices, a huge diversity of spaces emerges. All those building topologies – a potentially intelligent edge moving from analog to digital controls – also represent new training grounds for cloud-based models. As ISG continues to serve on-premise BMS with Distech Controls, and cloud-based Atrius software, we will also fuse edge-to-cloud by capturing data and helping customers organize it.

3. Next-generation controls will benefit from both data platforms and apps to support them

Distech Controls has helped tens of thousands of customers across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and now increasingly Asia. Distech Controls provides open-protocol sensors and controls on premise through a network of independent systems integrators that support organizations of all scales and sizes. That deep history of excellence on-premise will continue to innovate with our latest generation ECLYPSE connected controllers, in-room climate controls like the ECY-Stat, and software tools like ECLYPSE Building Intelligence delivering new versions regularly.  

That said, integrating our portfolio with new cloud-connected or cloud-fed applications, and data platform, will usher in the next phase of the building industry’s modernization. Applications like Atrius Facilities, a cloud-based BMS that helps connect and manage building remotely, will be a huge part of our future. Distech Controls system integrators and their director customers will benefit from increasingly context- and spatially aware applications.

atrius resolve
A preview of Atrius Resolve, our equipment health and monitoring application.

4. People still matter most

Even in a tech-led and dynamic industry, of course, some things don’t change. One way I was reminded of this came at our many fun, educational, and rich interactions with our friends and colleagues at IBcon. Both with our in-house employees and those we serve through our ISG ecosystem, we are grateful for the connections that animate our work. Gratitude combines joy with humility of awareness, and IBcon reinforced those feelings in my ISG colleagues and I!

acuity brands isg group at ibcon

Image of ISG Team at IBcon

Looking Forward

Looking forward, we can’t wait to see what the rest of 2023 brings, and then onto 2024 and beyond! In the meantime, we’ll keep creating with and for our friends across this industry.  

If you’re interested in learning more about our Atrius applications, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s a full listing of what we launched at the show, and also what’s in our existing portfolio across Atrius and Distech Controls. We’d love to talk as you consider software applications, the IDL platform supporting them, and your building controls systems that run your BMS, lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and other sub-systems. 

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