‘Smart sensors make buildings user friendly’

Henry Dukel

Don’t ever tell Henry Dukel that something can’t be done. On second thoughts, do tell him. Because that will trigger this technology developer in BAM Bouw en Techniek’s large project division to go out of his way to make it work.

For the World Trade Center project in Utrecht, completed in 2018 by AM and BAM Bouw en Techniek, Dukel came up with a groundbreaking innovation. In the search for possible optimisations in the design of the cable duct – which would carry the cables and pipes for the heating and cooling systems – he developed a control system based on a single unit per floor and a data connection. In the original design, each floor would have 74 conventional control units. In a building with 18 floors, this innovation was a major cost saver.

Contributing to a good result

‘It gives me a buzz to prove people wrong when they say “that’s not going to work”. Especially when I get feedback from colleagues who are happy with the result. I mean, that’s what you aim for – contributing to a good result. This solution has been my baby and I’m proud of it. It’s great to see this innovation being rolled out in other projects, as the principle can be applied in any building,’ says Dukel, who recently entered his ninth year at BAM.

Smart sensors

In his work as a developer, he has since then shifted his focus to a different product: sensors. ‘A lot of money is involved in smart building technology. The trick is to get as much functionality out of a system without increasing the costs. I’m currently investigating – together with a team of specialists – a smart sensor that can do more than measure temperature and relative humidity. If we can make it detect the presence of people, light output, noise and CO2, there would be many benefits. Basically, it’s a matter of modular design and construction at the micro level.’

User-friendly buildings

‘This sensor will make it possible to create an interactive connection between electrical and mechanical installations to make buildings really smart and much more user friendly as well as energy efficient. We are currently in a testing phase. None of it is actually “rocket science”, but that’s just what makes it fun.’