The traditional workplace model is evolving. Catalysed by the pandemic, tenants expect more from their work environment. A place that advocates sustainability, optimises health and well-being to offer a superior service that’s aim is to make the lives of the building occupiers easier without sacrificing the environment. This article expands on this and explores the relationship with smart technology specifically for the commercial building environment.

Impact On Sustainability 

In 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency and has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to net-zero by 2050. Compared to 1990 levels, the UK government aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 78% by 2035 (BBC, 2022).

So far, the built environment accounts for nearly 50% of annual global carbon emissions. Where building operations are responsible for 27% of those total emissions annually (Forbes, 2022). Sustainability is no longer a choice, and with good reason- the impact of climate change is soon to be irreversible.

In the commercial building industry, technology plays a crucial role in achieving sustainability targets. Having full visibility of a building’s operation is paramount to understanding, creating, and executing effective green strategies.

The secret to visibility; real-time data & more importantly, control. The results can place where energy is being wasted and identify trends in operations to determine the best ways to cut energy consumption, such as dynamic controls for lighting, air conditioning and other thermal systems when rooms are unoccupied.

Typically, building assets are monitored from a building management system (BMS), and traditionally, these legacy systems tend to act more as a warning light, however, technology has since developed. Modern intelligent building systems can diagnose, offer remote monitoring, and control of an estate as well as automate processes before they cost money or waste energy. 

 

People and productivity  

Reasons to adopt smart technology in commercial buildings go further than sustainability solely for the environment. It’s also about the people that work within it. 

Intelligent lighting isn’t simply about turning lights off and on to save energy. It lets tenants know what the utilization rate or occupancy is at any given time. Taking it a step further by identifying room trends and automating room settings to enable optimum comfort. For instance, in a multi-use office building, a group of architects may need the meeting room lux levels to be at 900 to have a clear and bright view of their blueprints whereas other groups may only require 250-500 lux. In addition, AI conditioning units can be linked to presence detection in the cloud to drive further control savings.

Smart sensors paired with interoperability enable a thriving and well-connected workplace experience. To optimise the workspace and make it as conducive to productivity as possible, it’s important to measure, report, and control factors affecting concentration, such as air and water quality, light, temperature, and noise. 

The versatility of sensors is partly what drives smart buildings to become a reality. 

Image of an entire city lit up at night - the lights are a bluey colour.

Gain Back Time 

A facility manager and their team’s roles are highly varied ranging from risk mitigation, and overseeing multidisciplinary teams to managing large building projects, and more. Consequently, making time a factor they lack. This is where automation comes in. Tedious and monotonous tasks can now be automated and scheduled, freeing up a facilities team’s time to focus on more important areas of the business.

Also, when in urgent circumstances, where time is of the essence, having visibility and the ability to control a building or entire estate instantly and remotely is a necessity. The emphasis here is having control over the situation, it’s important to ensure the safety of others is met at the highest possible standard. Modern technology enables facilities teams to do that.

 

In Summary 

Technology is constantly evolving, and its potential is limitless. In this article, we covered 4 specific benefits to commercial buildings by adopting technology. Though the benefits aren’t limited to those mentioned in this article.

 

  1. Smart technology strengthens a buildings green/sustainability strategy through visibility and control
  2. It’s more than the environment, it’s also about the people that reside within the buildings. Their health & well-being by creating an environment that is optimised for people
  3. Provides a superior service not only to tenant but to all stakeholders (i.e., investors, building owners, facilities teams etc.)
  4. Technology gives back time to focus on more important areas of the business.