Siemens Launches Building X Open AI-enabled Suite for Net Zero Buildings

Siemens is rolling out a platform for design and manufacturing.

Buildings are very complex top-level products. They include several individual large systems to manage air, water, waste, light, seismic activity, flooding, foundation issues, affects of solar and wind, fire safety. In addition, buildings must address concerns such as aesthetics, security, accessibility, and more. All of these systems require a lot of energy in various forms, supplies and maintenance schedules. After the design and construction of a building are complete, its owners and managers are left with a lot to do.

Building commissioning occurs when the architectural and construction firms hand off the building to its owner and train key personnel on complex systems. Proper commissioning of a building is the difference between designing a building to work properly and the building actually working properly in day-to-day operations.

Sustainability Standards

Successful operation and maintenance of buildings assumes that design and construction have been carried out to a certain standard. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has created a standard for sustainability in the design, construction and operation of buildings called Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED). Building design and operation can be certified at various LEED standard levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum). Government regulations require that most government-funded projects include some level of LEED certification. Net-zero is an available goal for LEED projects, but for most projects, attaining net-zero operations remains ambitious and costly.

The scale of buildings multiplies concerns, and the fact that many building managers are overseeing an entire campus of buildings means that they require tools to help them manage all the complex systems of the buildings. Of course, along with the technical management of operating systems and equipment comes management of the budgets and schedules for operations and maintenance, as well as applicable government regulations and requirements.

Smart Buildings

A smart building has systems that are connected to software controls and/or data monitoring through the Internet of Things (IoT). This connection is often achieved after a building’s initial construction to check, for example, that the correct components have been installed, but these systems are later connected through networks and software that is usually beyond the scope of a building’s initial design and construction.

Smart buildings are often not built in isolation but may be built in groups or across an entire campus—or even a series of buildings in various geographically unconnected locations—and such buildings need to be under a single point of management.

Building X

It is the job of a system regulator to pull all these systems together to include a dashboard of relevant data and monitors, and this involves some custom programming. Under the Xcelerator initiative, Siemens Building Technology division has released Building X, which integrates a suite of applications that makes all your building data accessible from a single interface.

Building X focuses on operations and maintenance. Siemens does not currently offer architectural design software, but it seems like Building X could be extended to include design information—essentially building information modeling (BIM).

Building X has many potential uses, but as smart buildings are primarily about working toward goals based on data, we will focus on that use. These goals can include controlling costs, saving energy and other resources, and in the end, reaching sustainability or even net-zero emissions levels.

Energy Usage in Buildings

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (, commercial and residential buildings combine to consume just under one-third of all energy used in the United States. This is a significant amount of energy, and for several reasons it is important to understand where this energy is going and how it is being used.

This can help us understand how to control and conserve energy usage. The effort to produce more energy-efficient transportation (again, somewhat less than one-third of the total) gets most of the attention, but energy-efficient buildings should be part of efforts to use less energy overall by cutting waste where possible and using more efficient equipment.

Energy conservation is or should be important to all individuals and businesses beyond any potentially polarizing political arguments. Energy costs money and saving energy means that energy or the money spent on it can be used for other things. That’s something that can benefit everyone.

In addition, some energy usage requires that even more energy to be used to reverse its effects. For example, incandescent lights require a lot of electricity and produce a lot of heat, so even more energy must be used to cool interior spaces where incandescent lights are used. Lighting can be an easy source of savings, and the transition to more efficient lighting is a current process that most of us are familiar with, even in our home lives.

Breaking the Building Data Silos

Siemens building automation and control systems products include several silo topics, such as HVAC products, fire safety, security, energy and sustainability, services, building performance, cybersecurity for smart buildings and digital building lifecycle. Building X is a suite of these applications that work together with IoT and AI enablement to put all of your building data together in one location.

Most performance aspects of businesses are tracked by data. Data helps us make decisions so that we know when to make changes and when to keep things as they are. Building systems are the same. The performance of a building can be measured in many ways—what percentage of gray water is reused? How efficient is the HVAC system? Do some areas of the building perform better than others? In what ways is your green roof making the building a better place to be? To what extent are you making use of natural light or waste heat? How does your parking area affect storm runoff in the local area?

Measuring Savings

Energy isn’t the only resource that can be measured. Physical resources such as paper and plastic products, food products, nonfood organic materials (such as lawn clippings) can also form a measure of sustainability. Recycling, composting, waste production—these are all areas that can be measured and improved.

For businesses, the goals can usually be measured numerically in terms of financial cost savings, and because you can always put an actual monetary cost on units of energy, converting energy savings to cost savings is a simple task.

Other goals can be more difficult to measure in terms of monetary savings or expenses. For example, the well-being of the people who use the building can contribute to the success of a built space but can be hard to measure. We do know that some things help people’s frame of mind, such as natural light, fresh air, and even natural materials such as plants, water features and stone. Can a green roof be used as a viable break area, in addition to the cooling and wastewater control benefits it provides? Is there a way to incorporate outdoor areas as workspace as weather permits?

Net-zero is a goal often referred to by building managers. This is when a building does not add to the overall carbon load. It can be difficult to see how a building can achieve this, unless it is actively producing energy through solar or wind generation, as well as using passive energy sources such as natural light, geothermal sources, and even gravity feed for air and water systems. Tracking data from these sources of energy can help your building certify that it is meeting established requirements.

Building X as a Digital Dashboard

Building X, as a part of the Xcelerator initiative, contributes to the enterprise digital transformation by bringing together data from all the various domains across building operations and management under a single interface for all stakeholders. Breaking the data silo model allows the right people to make better use of all available data and metrics.

The Xcelerator program offers an open application programming interface (API) that will allow you to create your own apps that will help you access and visualize Building X data in ways that fit your needs. Siemens claims to use a vendor-agnostic approach, which enables you to integrate third-party software and even cloud services into Building X or your own custom apps. This can allow you to bring together the data from multiple properties, even if they are managed separately.

Building X is essentially a permissions-driven web app that works together with other applications to employ AI-driven cloud databases. You can compare budgets, cost overages and analytics on any data relationships you have created in real time. You can access various aspects of your building management tasks—from financials, security, energy management, operations, and even a facilities 3D 360-degree viewer. The 3D viewer’s functionality is related to enhancements we have seen recently in handling large-scan datasets in Solid Edge as well as a new Xcelerator-driven partnership between Siemens and Nvidia for visualization.

You can imagine all the systems and equipment in your individual properties that produce data, and now all of that data is available for comparison, analysis and real-time monitoring with alerts for limits or calculated ratios.

All of this data can be viewed at a high-level dashboard for multiple properties or in detail for specific data sources, such as a door that is being used more than expected.

Because your buildings function like IoT nodes, the monitoring can happen from next door or from a different continent.

The open API with vendor-agnostic marketplace allows you to create custom apps in addition to Siemens’ offerings. A Developer Portal allows collaboration and provides support for development of these apps.


Siemens AG has announced the Xcelerator platform, which aims to help companies with their digital transformations. It offers an open API and marketplace for apps developed to work on the platform. Siemens Smart Infrastructure division has announced Building X, a suite of applications to help you better manage your buildings by bringing all the information from the various management tools together under a single interface.

Images courtesy of Siemens AG and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.