What is Smart Building Technology?
It’s the one thing every business strives to do – work smarter. By implementing a streamlined solution such as, smart building technology, companies can look forward to a more productive workforce and ultimately, a more profitable business. So, what exactly is smart building technology and how can it make your workplace that little bit smarter?
Put simply, smart building technology is the automation of various devices aimed at making buildings more connected, responsive and smarter: those meters, sensors, appliances and other devices that are all around us and that can receive and send data. A Smart Building uses automated processes to control and monitor everything from heating and ventilation, to lighting and security and much more, helping to highlight and manage inefficiencies and optimise business performance.
Once automated, the devices can be controlled, in terms of data received, within a purpose-built room within the Smart Building, or by using the internet for monitoring/control, or by a Smart phone from anywhere in the world.
Without a doubt, the beauty of smart building technology, as part of the wider Internet of Things (IoT), lies in its holistic offering. As well as allowing businesses to make more informed decisions, based on real data, it enables and empowers employees to find a more convenient way of working, helping to improve wellbeing and boost productivity. Everyone wins.
Better energy consumption
Smart Buildings continuously collect data from devices that control a building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems, providing recommendations and solutions to resolve any potential operational issues. Example solutions might include light switches that automatically turn on and off at optimal times, or smart windows that lighten or darken depending on sunlight intensity.
By first identifying areas of energy wastage and then adopting these smarter ways to work, not only will it go a long way towards helping you meet your green goals, but it could also mean significant savings for your business. After all, what’s the point in knowing how much you’ve spent on energy costs without knowing when and where that power is being used? You need that data before you can set about trimming costs.
Better building efficiency and resource management
Specialist sensors and unobtrusive cameras can safely provide information about how effectively a building is being used. Any issue from empty desk spaces and underused meeting rooms, to the temperature in the building can be monitored and controlled, with Smart systems able to make any necessary adjustments.
Smart building data also provides key insights that can be fed into the planning and use of resources, helping to make your business decisions that little bit better informed. The use of Location-based services is something which can prove hugely beneficial to Facilities staff. Good examples include resource tracking, where staff can track the whereabouts of things like waste paper bins and cleaning trollies, as they move about a building. This new Smart technology can also help with resource location, alerting occupants or visitors to their nearest resources, like open work areas, projects or cafeterias.
Better maintenance management
Manual maintenance costs can soon mount up. Without continuous maintenance, building equipment will need replacing far sooner, with these costly repairs often eating into budgets. That’s where smart sensors come in. They can detect building performance and malfunctions, activating maintenance procedures at just the right time, before an alert is even triggered.
Better building security
In today’s society having a robust security structure in place is fundamental. Smart building technology is aimed at protecting people, processes and assets through the use of things like access control, video surveillance, biometric detection, screening and intruder alarm systems. The ability to link the various security systems together has revolutionised this sector. Now, any kind of incident can be monitored and managed by one team to ensure it’s resolved quickly and effectively.
Better experience for building occupants
Smarter buildings breed a happier workforce. And let’s face it, a happier workforce is usually a more productive one. According to economist, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees, by 7-12%.
Providing the best experiences for occupants is a key priority for property owners and building managers. Smart Buildings have been designed to provide a more comfortable working environment, ensuring that occupants have all the facilities they need to work to their highest capabilities. Everything from automated blinds and screens that regulate light and temperature, to the monitoring of health and safety standards in the workplace, make for a safer, more comfortable working environment. Technology that allows occupants greater interactivity with building systems can also give them a greater sense of empowerment. This could be anything from being able to manage parking and surveillance, to booking out a meeting room on their mobile devices.
The latest 2017 IoT survey produced by Gartner has gone much further than just hypothesising about the potential benefits of this new technology. It has uncovered real, substantial benefits for businesses, from internal improvements such as workplace productivity, to external benefits relating to new customer experiences and opportunities. In the research, 45% of respondents could see increasing revenue from additional value-added services after the sale of the product (in consulting, for example). Elsewhere in the study, 41% of those surveyed thought that there would be workforce productivity enhancement through their organisation’s internal IoT activities, whilst just short of 40% could see a tighter integration of customer care with product performance and customer usage. It has also uncovered how IoT is creating new revenue opportunities, affording companies “the ability to morph into new companies”. And in today’s society, let’s face it, versatility is king.
This brings us back to the holistic offering of smart building technology. The financial gains are becoming evident: “Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and maintenance efficiencies” according to Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services, Jones Lang LaSalle. The benefits go much further than the financial ones we can physically see though.
The implementation of smart building technology sets about achieving a more robust and contented workforce, making businesses more efficient, adaptable and perhaps most importantly, future-ready.