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IBM touts Smarter Buildings push

Big Blue is working with customers and partners including the Tennessee Valley Authority to make facilities more energy-efficient and easier to operate.

IBM is hoping to use technology to create greener, smarter buildings.

Big Blue announced Monday that it will team up with partners and customers to venture into the next phase of its Smarter Planet initiative: Smarter Buildings. The goal is to help buildings, manufacturing plants, and other facilities consume less energy and water and make them easier to operate.

Announced Monday, one of IBM's new partnerships is with Johnson Controls, a manufacturer of products that optimize energy use in buildings. The two plan to combine Johnson's energy-efficient technologies with IBM's Tivoli software to offer customers a way to monitor and manage power usage, which IBM believes will cut costs. Specifically, building owners will be able to detect wasteful energy use, calculate greenhouse gas levels, and better manage the space in their buildings.

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant
The Tennessee Valley Authority is using IBM software to boost efficiency across its array of power plants, including the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant pictured here. Tennessee Valley Authority via PRNewsFoto/IBM

"The Smart Building Solution from Johnson Controls and IBM will deliver the ability to optimize energy and environmental performance by integrating building, infrastructure, and enterprise systems," said William Sawyer, vice president of Tivoli Maximo operations in IBM's software group, in a statement. "This will provide our clients with advanced intelligence capabilities that will measurably improve building operations."

IBM also said it has added a major customer in the form of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA is now using IBM software to monitor and manage the different power source assets throughout its plants, including fossil fuel, hydro, nuclear, and wind. The utility is using IBM's Maximo Asset Management software, including Maximo for Nuclear Energy.

The Maximo software is designed to integrate supply chain and other business processes to help customers manage all their assets under one roof. Maximo replaces the TVA's older maintenance and supply-chain software and other legacy applications.

Among the largest power companies in the U.S., the TVA generates electricity through 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired plants, 11 combustion-turbine sites, three nuclear plants, a pumped-storage hydropower plant, and 18 green-power sites that use a combination of wind turbines, methane gas, and solar panels, according to IBM. The energy is sent through 16,000 miles of lines to supply power to around 9 million people in the company's service area, which includes Tennessee and parts of six other states.

IBM said that its work for the TVA will be the largest enterprise asset-management project set up by any U.S. utility company.

"Explicitly based on industry best practices as defined in the Standard Nuclear Performance Model, Maximo for Nuclear Power is a highly scalable architecture that will enable TVA to integrate and consolidate legacy asset management applications to improve operational and IT efficiency and reduce complexity," said Joel McGlynn, a vice president with IBM Global Business Services, in a statement.