In the future, more and more people will live in cities. According to the United Nations, by 2022, 56% of the world’s population will be urban dwellers; by 2050, this number will rise to 68%. This means that we must use existing resources more efficiently, while reducing overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

By Manuel Hollfelder and Julia Fichte, Emerging Applications Managers, Infineon Technologies AG

In the future, more and more people will live in cities. According to the United Nations, by 2022, 56% of the world’s population will be urban dwellers; by 2050, this number will rise to 68%. This means that we must use existing resources more efficiently, while reducing overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Buildings can play a decisive role in addressing this challenge. In the EU alone, 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions are caused by buildings. According to the assessment, 75% of the existing building stock in the EU has the problem of energy inefficiency. This clearly bodes well for building energy efficiency with huge room for improvement.

As a result, the EU has revised and agreed on a series of regulatory requirements in its Energy Efficiency in Buildings Directive, which requires EU member states to approve national policies aimed at improving the energy efficiency of the building sector.

In particular, the directive states that smart building technology is a key element in achieving energy efficiency goals. Smart sensor technology, which has proven its advantages in Industry 4.0, is now being used to automate buildings. Intelligent building automation and control systems can significantly improve the efficiency of building operations through data information collected by sensors. A set of indicators that can show the conditions for the intelligent transformation of buildings is also being established. This set of metrics can be used to assess a building’s ability to utilize new technologies and Electronic systems to reduce energy consumption and emissions, and to adapt to the needs of occupants.

Improved energy efficiency is not the only benefit a smart building can bring. Smartly installed sensors and actuators continuously monitor and adjust air quality and lighting settings to ensure an optimal work environment, increase productivity and maximize occupancy comfort.

‘The Edge’ office building in Amsterdam is a prime example of how smart technology can cut building operating costs and increase productivity. The 40,000-square-meter office building is equipped with around 28,000 sensors that enable a building management system (BMS) to collect information on key parameters such as humidity, temperature and brightness. The BMS then automatically triggers adjustments to building operating conditions based on changes in these parameters, ensuring that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting systems, and other systems operate as efficiently as possible. As a result, “The Edge” office building consumes 70% less electricity than conventional office buildings, making it one of the most energy-efficient smart buildings in the world.

While “The Edge” projects are relatively rare these days, the smart building market is undoubtedly on the rise. According to recent market research and forecasts, the smart building equipment market is set to double at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 16% by 2022.

Infineon sensors make buildings smarter, greener and more energy efficient

Figure 1: Elements covered by a smart building

Smart buildings: making buildings smarter, greener and more energy efficient

Infineon sensors make buildings smarter, greener and more energy efficient

Figure 2: The level of intelligence of smart buildings

What is a smart building?

Smart buildings are different from smart homes and refer specifically to non-residential buildings such as office buildings, shopping malls, and hotels. Devices in these buildings are connected to sensors that provide in-depth consumption information and automate decisions to optimize operations.

The smart downlight that Infineon plans to exhibit at this year’s International Lighting and Building Technology and Equipment Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, is the best example. The downlight combines power and sensor solutions to give building managers full control over building health. In this system, the XDPL8221 digital control chip can monitor the related error conditions on the LED drive side, such as undervoltage, overvoltage, open load or output short circuit. The 24GHz radar sensor detects whether people are in the building and counts how many, allowing the system to dim the lights when no one is there to save electricity. Sensors can also send this data to BMS systems and building managers for further analysis and optimization.

Following the more abstract set of “sensing, computing, driving”, a series of networked sensors will collect environmental information, as well as data related to the operation and usage of the building. This information can either be processed at the edge (edge ​​computing) or sent to a central BMS system running locally or in the cloud. This information is then used to trigger automated actions to make adjustments to the HVAC system, lighting system, blinds and many other devices in the building.

Buildings can become “smart” by creating cross-connections between different subsystems using sensors, actuators, and controllers (Figure 1). If the interconnect is the skeleton of a smart building, the actual devices and controls are the muscles and brains of the building.

This interaction between smart components makes it possible to control ventilation systems based on indoor air quality (IAQ) and indoor CO2 concentration (for example). The lighting system can also be adjusted automatically based on additional factors such as the presence or absence of people and the brightness of the room. This significantly reduces energy consumption while increasing user comfort and well-being.

Smart buildings can be divided into three levels (Figure 2):

Entry level, i.e. there is only a basic connection between the various subsystems of the building and the building management system;

· Intermediate level, i.e. capable of integrated management and control of multiple integrated subsystems, including sensor-based data collection;

• Comprehensive level, that is, all subsystems can be comprehensively managed and controlled through intelligent coordinated actions among different subsystems.

There is no doubt that today’s buildings cannot achieve a comprehensive level of intelligence overnight. Instead, it requires accumulation and progress in small steps every day. Next, we will use Power over Ethernet (PoE) and condition monitoring as two examples to describe how to make buildings smarter.

Smart buildings: making buildings smarter, greener and more energy efficient

Example 1: POE as the backbone of an interconnected system

The key to the realization of intelligent building is that large bandwidth and large batches of data can be transmitted between subsystems and BMS. Therefore, having a capable and reliable information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure is of the utmost importance to any smart building.

Internet Protocol (IP)-based network connections are well established in industrial and residential applications. It is easy to install and maintain, works perfectly with existing platforms, and can be implemented in both hardware and software. But Ethernet has the disadvantage that Ethernet-connected devices still need separate cables to draw power from the grid.

This challenge for low-power devices such as IP phones and conferencing systems has been overcome with the publication of the first generation of Power over Ethernet standards for Class 1 and Class 2 devices by the IEEE. With PoE, Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) – such as a PoE switch – can provide power and connectivity to many connected Powered Devices (PDs) over twisted pair Ethernet cables. This makes it necessary to establish only one physical connection – the Ethernet socket (socket), and the physical connection can be done entirely by IT specialists alone. This approach also reduces installation and operating costs by reducing cabling efforts and simplifying device management.

Until recently, PoE technology could only power devices under 30 W, which hindered its widespread adoption. With the 802.3bt standard promulgated by the IEEE in September 2018, Category 3 and Category 4 PoE devices are able to use all four twisted pair Ethernet cables, increasing the available power to 100 W per port. This opens the door to higher-power applications for PoE, such as 5G small cells powered by PoE, LED lamps, high-power Wi-Fi access points, and public address (PA) systems.

The revised standard also addresses overall energy efficiency, ie, reduced standby power consumption, and introduces a protocol for managing available power in a more granular manner by power class. However, these regulations also pose new challenges to the design of switching power supplies (SMPS) for PoE devices.

First, to fully support the latest standards, a power budget of up to 100 W/port must be added to the PoE switch on the PSE side. In order to avoid the need to increase the size of the SMPS, the power density of the SMPS must be increased. This means that in the PSE design, the main SMPS must meet the key requirements of efficiency, power density and reliability.

Second, there needs to be a suitable semiconductor solution to match the corresponding SMPS topology (such as an active flyback clamp[ACF]or LLC). Choosing an efficient and reliable solution, such as Infineon’s superjunction CoolMOS™ MOSFETs, maximizes available power and extends device life. Due to their high efficiency, energy consumption can also be reduced.

Efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and power density all play a critical role in the PD’s isolated DC/DC SMPS conversion stage. Every watt of power saved by improving the overall efficiency of the SMPS can be used by the PD itself.

When combined with reliable and efficient semiconductor solutions such as Infineon’s OptiMOS™ and StrongIRFET™ product families for PD-side SMPS systems, or the CoolMOS™ product family for PSE-side SMPS systems, PoE is a smart Buildings can play a very critical role in building a reliable ICT infrastructure. It also creates additional cost saving opportunities.

Infineon sensors make buildings smarter, greener and more energy efficient

Figure 3: PDs are powered using a general-purpose isolated DC/DC converter solution (above) that can only be used for specific applications such as LED lighting. PSEs require high-efficiency PFCs and low-loss switches in isolated topologies (below).

Example 2: Condition Monitoring

Equipment and system failures such as elevators and air conditioners can cause serious disruption and damage to the normal operation of a building. In interconnected smart buildings, even a small problem can cause a huge disruption to the operation of the building. As a result, building managers are urgently looking for ways to monitor the condition of installed equipment and effectively predict failures before they occur.

Sensors play a decisive role in equipment condition monitoring. Sensors installed inside or outside the equipment can collect data on various parameters that reflect the operating conditions of the equipment. For example, air pressure sensors are used in HVAC equipment for airflow monitoring, current sensors are used in motor drives for current measurements, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones are used for sound anomaly and vibration measurements. These sensors can detect conditions that deviate from a predetermined optimal state in real time.

After implementing condition monitoring, the next most logical thing to do is implement predictive maintenance. With predictive maintenance, it is possible to estimate when equipment is most likely to fail, enabling timely and proactive maintenance.

This trend was evident at this year’s AHR show in Orlando, Florida, and is likely to be the focus of the Frankfurt show.

Having identified this trend, Infineon will present an end-to-end demonstration unit for HVAC system condition monitoring and predictive maintenance at the Frankfurt trade fair. Developed by Infineon in collaboration with Klika Tech, a developer of end-to-end IoT and cloud solutions, and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the demo unit is capable of demonstrating the use of sensors in smart building condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions potential in.

The demo focuses on the main issues of HVAC equipment – including airflow monitoring. It incorporates a number of Infineon products listed below to ensure accurate and reliable data recording.


・ XENSIV™ DPS368 Barometric Pressure Sensor

・ XENSIV™ TLI4970 Current Sensor

・ XENSIV™ TLV493D-A1B6 3D Magnetic Sensor

・ XENSIV™ BGT24LTR11 24-GHz radar sensor


・ XMC™ XMC4800 IoT Amazon FreeRTOS Connectivity Kit


・ OPTIGA™ Trust X

By utilizing sensor units from Infineon’s XENSIV™ sensor product family, critical components in HVAC equipment – such as compressors, fans, motors and filters – can be monitored along with overall system vibration. Sensors can directly collect data about components. The collected data can be preprocessed locally by the XMC™ microcontroller and then sent to the AWS cloud for information extraction and anomaly detection. Embedded hardware security solutions secure the entire data flow from edge to cloud.

HVAC equipment is just one example of how sensors can help enable condition monitoring and predictive maintenance to unlock additional value for building operators, tenants and equipment manufacturers. For other critical subsystems such as elevators, valves and lighting, related semiconductor solutions and advanced software intelligence solve maintenance problems and provide insight.


For building automation to achieve a step-by-step leap, it must be able to use sensor input to trigger actuators and automate decision-making in all subsystem areas. Semiconductor solutions such as sensors, power management chips, microcontrollers, and security chips provide the necessary foundation for building smart buildings by creating a vital bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Thanks to advanced technology and smart connected solutions, today’s buildings can be transformed into self-aware, green and smart buildings in the future, helping to solve the challenges posed by urbanization and climate change to society.

Infineon XENSIV™ DPS368 pressure sensor enables airflow monitoring in HVAC systems. Because it is waterproof and rugged (IPx8), the pressure sensor can be used for data collection in harsh environments such as HVAC.

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