Today many building systems are still managed independently with various departments having silos of information that are difficult to share across the organization. However, technology companies recognize the smart-buildings market is expected to grow significantly in the next year and are offering owners and operators new ways to manage building systems.

For example, IBM, www.ibm.com, Armonk, N.Y., launched its Smarter Buildings initiative in February 2010 and partnered with building-automation providers such as Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, and Honeywell’s Tridium unit. IBM has also expanded its Green Sigma Coalition to include companies such as Autodesk, Eaton, Siemens Building Technologies Division, and others.

Last week, IBM announced it will continue to accelerate its Smarter Buildings initiative through the acquisition of TRIRIGA, www.tririga.com, Las Vegas, Nev.

The TRIRIGA software allows owners and operators to optimize building use, reduce occupancy costs, and improve lease administration. The technology also prioritizes investments and monitors sustainability, helping make decisions about space usage and assess environmental impact of investments.

According to IBM, TRIRIGA will be integrated into IBM Tivoli Software and IBM Global Business and will close in the second quarter of 2011, if approved. IBM says its Smarter Planet projects are estimated to drive $10 billion in revenue for IBM by 2015.

The smart-buildings market is beginning to see significant growth, as more owners are looking to reduce environmental operating expenses. Some analysts even predict the market could grow as much as 25% annually in the next year. And with buildings accounting for a majority of all energy use in the United States, smarter buildings will help reduce energy use and building maintenance significantly.

Facilities such as Bryant University, Ave Marie University, Galveston National Labs, and others are all seeing the benefits of smart-building technologies firsthand.

Being able to manage all the building systems on one platform will undoubtedly give owners the data needed to make more cost-effective decisions that will sustain the long-term life of a facility.

IBM is just one example of a technology provider that recognizes the growth potential in this particular market. As more initiatives such as IBM’s Smart Buildings plan come to fruition, the industry will have a number of options to effectively manage their real estate portfolio, capital projects, and facilities’ energy usage.