Reduce Energy Costs By Up To 90%. Predict And Fix Problems Before They Happen. Improve Worker Productivity.
Everyone remembers that feeling of horror when you read your first Google Privacy Agreement. I still feel uneasy now – albeit while I’m using my GPS to locate the nearest artisan pizza joint. And then checking their customers’ real-time location data to see how likely I am to get a table. The simple fact is, sharing information makes life easier.
Everything that happens in a building is producing data. And all of those complex numbers can be crunched in real-time by adding a software layer. These relatively low-cost apps and platforms can summarise key findings in an easy-to-digest format. Which is how a pizza place can tell you how busy it is on Tuesday’s in 0.55 seconds.
I once heard a great analogy: a building is like a person. They have frames (bones), plumbing (circulatory system), and electricity (nervous system), but very rarely contain the part that controls it all: a brain. Business owners need to have the right tools to keep their finger on the pulse of their company. Connecting all of the separate working parts to one centralised system means owners can monitor, maintain and control almost every aspect of their building’s operations. Decisions will be data-driven and therefore carry less risk.
82% of GDP in the US is dependent on commercial buildings. Improving efficiency by a small percentage will make an impressive impact. And it’s not only about saving money on the physical costs. It’s also about optimising the whole environment to create a happy, healthy workforce.
Continuing to automate our shops, offices and even educational facilities will have far reaching benefits. Here are just three:
1 Save Energy – Reduce Costs by up to 90%
Attaching sensors to lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) apparatus provides data about the usage of each. Once connected to a platform, this information can be analysed to give an array of insights over time. For instance, which day of the week the most energy is used (Tip: It probably won’t be Fridays). Lighting management systems have been proven to reduce costs by up to 90%.
The Internet of Things allows these technology solutions to go a step further by integrating Artificial Intelligence. AI uses tiny embedded processing chips to recognise when spaces are not in use. Microcontrollers will then automatically turn off lights and HVAC equipment.
California State University reduced their energy spend by 65-80% when using a similar system. Think of it as a bigger version of Nest, the home automation system invented by iPod inventor Tony Fadell that made news in 2014 when Google snapped up the startup for a cool $3.2bn.
Where you save energy, you save money. So your ROI will only increase over time. Plus you’ll be meeting environmental targets. It’s a win-win.
2 Manage Your Facility – Predict and Fix Problems Before They Happen
So you now have sensors attached to your devices. They collect data, and you’re controlling each device via an app. What more can we do?
We want these devices to speak to us. And no, not like Joaquin Phoenix talks to his phone in Her. I mean, so they can tell us if any issues arise.
When a light bulb starts flickering or the brakes on an elevator start to erode, the smart system will flag it for a perfectly-timed repair. The end goal is to create a machine-learning structure that is self-sensing, self-controlling and also self-optimising.
Need a simple breakdown of your building’s energy usage, HR department expenses or simply how many pencils are in the stationary inventory? Valuable insights are just a tap away. Once devices are connected, they will continuously generate data for analysis. Then an intelligent and user-friendly dashboard can be designed to present that information efficiently.
Real-time sensor technologies will also make buildings safer. In the event of an emergency, e.g. a fire, they could tell you how many people are inside and where. Sensors could also detect the source of the fire, the intensity of the heat or smoke, and analyse the air composition to highlight areas at risk from a flashover.
3 Optimise Your Office – Improve Worker Productivity
We touched on temperature control earlier. Applications like Comfy takes this to the next level by introducing occupant engagement to create the optimum workspace climate. They claim that in a test, 60% of office staff reported that they had been more productive thanks to the app.
Comfy merely asks if users want to be warmer or cooler. But over time, the advanced AI will learn individual preferences, the side of the building the sun heats up and which rooms are becoming overheated by equipment. It will then automatically adjust the temperature depending on where you are in the office. Or it will create an intermediate temperature when you are with others.
The same sensors that test the air composition for fire services could also be used to monitor air quality in the working environment. Filtering out excessive moisture, pollutants, and allergens will ensure your people feel their best.
The last decade has focused on making companies environmentally friendly. The next ten years will be defined by designing workspaces that improve the well-being, satisfaction and performance of its users.