IBM Teams With Met Museum to Monitor Indoor Climate for Art

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the world’s largest computer-services provider, is using its technology knowledge to help preserve medieval art in a bid to gain clients seeking to make their buildings more efficient.

IBM is installing sensors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that will monitor room temperature, humidity and chemicals and automatically make adjustments to preserve art, the company said in a statement. The project is starting in the museum’s Cloisters branch, which houses medieval art, and will later expand to the rest of the museum.

The project is part of the Armonk, New York-based company’s bid to digitally monitor buildings -- and everything from traffic and utilities to hospitals -- to make them more efficient. The initiative, coined Smarter Planet, is expected to generate $10 billion in sales for IBM by 2015. The global market for managing buildings specifically should more than triple to $10.2 billion in that time frame, according to Framingham, Massachusetts-based research firm IDC.

IBM’s sensors at the museum will detect humidity and temperature, as well as other elements, such as when a door opens, lights change, or when an air duct starts corroding and emits chemicals, said Dave Bartlett, who heads the Smarter Buildings program for IBM.

‘Years of Preservation’

“It’s immediate,” Bartlett said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Every minute you can maintain the optimum condition, you’re putting years of preservation on that. Every minute you don’t, you’re adding pressure on that piece of art.”

After the project expands to the rest of the museum, the company expects to work with others on similar technology, he said.

IBM also announced its building-management software, which tracks a structure’s boilers, water pipes and outside temperatures to monitor energy use and predict needed maintenance.

For example, if the air conditioning and the heat are on, the software will detect that and determine which needs to be shut down, Bartlett said. If a fan is working overtime, an alert will pop up to check the area and see if a nearby fan needs to be replaced.

“It’s like tuning. As we work and live with these buildings, we can do this in real-time,” Bartlett said. “That’s the huge opportunity.”

When IBM used it at some of its buildings in Rochester, Minnesota, it saved 8 percent in energy costs, according to the statement. The software, which is priced per square-foot, is available July 1.

IBM rose 50 cents to $164.84 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 12 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katie Hoffmann in New York at khoffmann4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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