Italian architect Carlo Ratti has designed a system for an office in Turin that instructs heating, lighting and cooling systems to follow occupants around the building like an "individually-tailored environmental bubble".
Carlo Ratti Associati's Office 3.0 will use a system of sensors to monitor employees as they move around the headquarters of the Agnelli Foundation cultural institution.
The technology ? known as the Internet of Things ? employs a series of Wi-Fi-connected sensors to monitor environments and collect sets of data, then uses the information to send instructions to products and services within the building.
In this case, the data includes occupancy levels, temperature, CO2 concentration, and the status of meeting rooms.
The building management system (BMS) can tell the lights to switch off if a room is empty, and heat meeting rooms just before they are due to be occupied.
By tailoring the heating and lighting to the needs of individuals and groups, the firm believes the office could cut significantly energy use.
"Today, a lot of energy is wasted heating or cooling empty buildings," said Ratti, who is also the director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT.
"By synchronising energy usage and human occupancy within buildings, we can create a more sustainable and responsive architecture ? theoretically slashing energy consumption by up to 40 per cent."
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Occupants can also set their preferred temperature via a smartphone app. The fan coil units situated in the false ceilings will be activated by human presence, so a "thermal bubble" will follow individuals around the building.
When an occupant leaves a space, the room will automatically return to "standby mode" to save energy.
The system is designed to learn daily routines and usage patterns, which will allow the workplace to be adapted accordingly over time.