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IBM, Google, Microsoft join 'gold rush' to make buildings greener

By Mitch Betts
January 10, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - The next wave of green IT will be improving the energy efficiency of office buildings, and it will set up intense competition among the incumbent makers of building-control systems and IT vendors such as IBM, Google, Cisco and Microsoft, according to a report Lux Research Inc. released last month.

In hopes of capturing the "smart buildings" market, the IT vendors will be battling building-control giants like Johnson Controls, Siemens, Honeywell and Schneider Electric, as well as utilities, appliance makers, lighting suppliers and dozens of start-ups, the report said.

Lux Research analyst Michael LoCascio said the building technology market will see a boom-and-bust cycle similar to that of the dot-com market in the late 1990s. The report predicted a "gold rush" of entrepreneurs and a frenzy of acquisitions, followed by a shakeout in 2015.

The market research firm said that "conventional buildings unnecessarily consume a lot of energy as lighting, climate control and ventilation are all powered with little or no regard for the changing number of occupants, or the surrounding environmental or ambient conditions." Smarter controls and sensors can reduce overall building energy consumption by 20% -- or up to 60% for specific functions such as lighting, according to the report.

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