Siemens’ Acquisition Of Wattsense Hints At A Technological Revolution For Small Commercial Buildings
On 6th October 2021, Siemens announced the acquisition of France-headquartered Wattsense, an IoT platform provider that targets small and medium-sized commercial buildings (SMBs). This comes only six months after Wattsense announced a technological partnership with Schneider Electric to offer a simple building management system (BMS) for smaller commercial buildings. Siemens intends to use this acquisition to expand the reach of its building product portfolio and enable the adoption of energy management solutions in properties with little or no existing building management systems.
This acquisition is the latest example of a building technology vendor weighing into the smart building market for SMBs. Smart building technology firms have traditionally targeted large energy users, leaving a large but fragmented market of small firms untapped. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that around 90% of commercial buildings in the US are SMBs (less than 50,000 square feet), and the US Department Of Energy states that only 10% of these buildings have a building automation or energy management system. In December 2020, Honeywell also launched a building portfolio management system designed specifically for SMBs and then announced a partnership with property development firm Nexii to implement the solution.
Small buildings have lagged large commercial properties in the uptake of controls and IoT monitoring solutions. This reflects the technology has traditionally been cost-prohibitive for sites spending less than $8,000 on energy annually, and small firms have held little interest in optimizing energy. Today the lowering cost of monitoring platforms and wireless control systems enables vendors to offer more compelling propositions with good economics.
As building technology costs fall and regulation around energy efficiency ramps up, the SMB market is edging towards a much needed technological revolution. As well as micro-BMSs, low cost and scalable IoT platforms, such as Energisme, Infogrid and PointGuard, offer a good starting point on the digitization journey, particularly in benchmarking facilities and identifying high-impact projects that can be the target of further investment. Building technology vendors need to be careful not to ignore smaller buildings and their future buying potential. The SMB market is shaping up to be the next battleground for smart building propositions, and we expect plenty more product launches targeted at smaller, lower value properties over the next 12 months.