As technology becomes more advanced, the Facilities Management industry is experiencing a significant transformation of its practices, processes, and systems. Facilities Managers face profound changes and must adapt to working with modern systems. Smart technology is becoming an increasingly popular way of optimising a building’s performance and reducing its impact on the environment.
A truly smart building can analyse its environment and make real-time adjustments to improve its efficiencies. Built on intelligent infrastructure that connects all of the building’s systems, smart buildings use technology to share data between these systems to optimise overall performance.
Smart buildings utilise a range of sensors such as temperature, humidity, and occupancy, to monitor conditions within the property and use Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to track areas like energy usage and ventilation. IoT is a system of devices that communicate and share data over a network without human intervention. This allows smart buildings to automate certain functions such as heating and ventilation.
How Will Smart Buildings Impact Facilities Managers?
The role of the Facilities Manager was historically a reactive one, responding to issues within the property as and when they arose. The recent use of smart technology allows predictive maintenance to take place, making the role more proactive whilst freeing up time to focus on building optimisation.
Smart technology helps monitor a building’s performance and reduce the administrative work involved. Smart sensors gather large amounts of informative data, eliminating the need to manually produce reports, and helping to ensure the building is compliant with industry standards.
Smart buildings are programmed to deliver a more comfortable experience for occupants while ensuring health and safety requirements are being met. By alerting the Facilities Manager to any intruders and automatically notifying authorities, they significantly enhance building security and occupant safety.
The issue of carbon emissions is at the core of essential changes in Facilities Management. Smart technology helps to enhance the performance of energy-consuming systems within your building, significantly reducing wasted energy and cutting costs. Smart buildings ensure that energy efficiencies are continuously improving by monitoring the conditions within the building and making adjustments.
For instance, smart lighting ensures lights are only on when a room is occupied. Smart lights can also be linked to daylight sensors to ensure lights are off when they are not required. To further reduce carbon emissions, buildings could invest in renewable energy such as solar panels.
Other ways smart buildings improve energy efficiencies:
Advanced window control systems that are highly insulated and adjust shading based on sunlight.
- Smart ceiling fans programmed to spin only when needed.
- Eco-friendly elevators that consume up to 90% less electricity than the ones made 30 years ago.
- Use of sensors to monitor things like occupancy and temperature and adjust accordingly.
Smart HVAC Systems
In most cases, the HVAC system is the biggest contributor to the carbon footprint of a building. A smart HVAC system aims to supply and maintain adequate ventilation and a suitable temperature in occupied rooms within a building. Smart HVAC systems significantly reduce carbon emissions and decrease costs associated with running the building.
Using smart sensors to collect information, these systems “learn” how much heat or air is needed in each part of the building, resulting in significant energy savings. The sensors also monitor how the system itself is functioning to maintain internal efficiency.
Smart thermostats measure not only temperature and ventilation, but other variables including humidity, occupancy, and even CO2 levels. This information allows the system to ensure the environment is comfortable for its occupants whilst allowing you to monitor and correct any issues straight away.
One thing that can’t be avoided is staff changing the temperature on the thermostat, which often leads to wasted energy. Sensor-driven technology allows you to monitor any changes to the system and correct any issues straight away.
The total maintenance costs that occur throughout the life of a commercial building often exceed the overall cost of construction. Smart buildings aim to reduce these costs by helping Facilities Managers to predict future maintenance needs and potentially fix them before a significant cost is incurred.
Sensors can be positioned around machinery such as heaters and programmed to detect critical levels of heat, noise, or vibration. These sensors will warn you of any issues, allowing you to fix it before it escalates. Additionally, occupancy sensors can highlight areas of your property that experience high levels of use and which may require more regular checking to mitigate the risk of breakdowns.
What Does The Future Look Like For Smart Buildings?
Once smart buildings are set up and operating individually, the next step is to connect them. Industry experts anticipate a network of smart buildings that can communicate with each other, resulting in a smart city built on IoT. The information generated by the buildings will be shared throughout the smart city and lead to changes in the Facilities Management sector.
Smart buildings offer full visibility of building performance and help you to enhance efficiencies. They provide you with sensor-driven data that you can act on, allowing you to reduce maintenance costs by carrying out predictive maintenance.
A smart HVAC system automatically adjusts itself using sensors to ensure occupants are comfortable and energy consumption is optimised. Other systems such as lighting and security use sensors to automate certain functions and provide valuable data to help reduce carbon emissions and enhance occupant satisfaction. All of this smart technology helps enhance energy efficiencies and will play a part in achieving the UK’s aim to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
If you would like to learn more about smart buildings and how they could affect you, please contact us.