Top five benefits of smart buildings

Top five benefits of smart buildings

Smart buildings – those sites that use automated processes and interconnected technologies to become more responsive to occupants’ needs – are already making an impact across many sectors and, as technology develops, this is only going to grow.

However, as some of these benefits aren’t clearly visible, it can be difficult to pinpoint the positive effect smart buildings have on both building owners and occupants. Here we round up five key benefits.

1. Productivity and efficiency benefits

Perhaps one of the best-known elements of smart building technology is environmental sensors that can monitor conditions such as temperature and humidity in each room or zone of a building in real time.

Temperature sensors have been in use for many years to control heating and air conditioning, but the emergence of the Internet of Things has extended their benefits. So, for example, in addition to enhancing comfort for occupants, sensors can also benefit machines that are temperature-sensitive and ensure they don’t overheat. With smart temperature sensors it is possible to automate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls to maintain ideal conditions and automatically detect issues as they occur.

Similarly, humidity sensors can alert those in moisture-sensitive environments such as hospitals or museums if there is too much moisture in the air.

These devices can help to improve productivity by not only ensuring that any tools or machinery is operating in suitable conditions, but also making sure that the temperature in corporate environments is set at a level comfortable; too hot or too cold and productivity has been shown to decline.

2. Environmental benefits

As well as improving the working and operating environment for occupants and machinery, smart building technology can also have a positive impact on the wider environment reducing energy usage while enhancing efficiency.

Motion sensors, which are designed to pick up on physical movement, for example, can also be used to automate building controls such as heating and lighting depending on whether or not a space is occupied. Only activating lights when a room or corridor is in use, for example, can help to reduce energy consumption.

Similarly, electrical current sensors, which measure real-time energy consumption at a circuit, zone or machine level, are not only useful in identifying how much energy is being used, they can also help to identify areas of high energy use and thus potential waste. These can also automatically switch off devices when they’re not in use, further reducing energy consumption.

Relatively small measures such as this can have a surprisingly big impact on energy use, especially when you consider scaling it across an entire estate or building portfolio.

3. Business benefits

An often-overlooked advantage of smart building technology is the insight it can give you into how a building is being used, or if in fact spaces are being paid for despite being under utilised.

Occupancy sensors can be a valuable tool here, highlighting which desks or meeting spaces are available at any given time. In large organisations and those that have introduced flexible and hot-desking working practices, this can result in a better employee experience, improved productivity and cost savings – offering a clear ROI for businesses.

Occupancy sensors are useful in areas other than corporate work spaces, however. In retail, for example, they can provide actionable data on footfall, informing product placement or highlighting the need to move staff to a particularly busy area such as the checkout. As well as potentially increasing sales, this will also improve the customer experience.

4. Equipment benefits

Predictive maintenance has become an important term in many businesses in recent times, and it has been made possible by smart technology. With predictive maintenance it’s no longer a case of manually checking how equipment is performing or only responding when something fails.

Instead sensors can detect changes in building performance and trigger an action to resolve it before it becomes critical.

Over the longer term, building management teams will gain useful insights into building performance and be able to use this to more effectively schedule upgrades and maintenance.

5. Financial benefits

Ultimately, all of the above benefits, and the many others that smart building technology can bring, also create financial benefits. Whether increasing productivity, removing inefficiencies, utilising spaces more effectively, better managing energy or creating a better experience for customers, these all have the potential to impact positively on the bottom line.

However, be aware that poorly implemented technologies can actually have a negative effect, taking away the ability of occupants to control their environments, leading to dissatisfaction within a space.

Similarly, if the system hasn’t been planned, implemented or explained properly it may well be under-utilised or simply used incorrectly, thus having little or no impact on an environment.

To avoid these issues make sure you have a coherent strategy for developing your smart building infrastructure and always utilise the knowledge of companies experienced in this area.

Find out more about how we can help you make your building work smarter by getting in touch and downloading the whitepaper below.

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