Living Breathing Buildings 12 Ways Smart Buildings Will Be More Cost-Effective

25 April 2016

Image from Pixabay.

Smart buildings are buildings in which novel technologies are used to monitor and manage systems necessary to the health, safety and comfort of the occupants (such as heating, lighting and sanitation) in a way that minimises environmental impacts whilst maximising efficiencies.

While smart buildings are frequently lauded for their green credentials, the benefits they offer businesses are not only environmental, but also economic. Here, we outline 12 of the ways in which smart buildings can save money, as well as the planet.

1.Smart buildings are more energy efficient.

Perhaps the most noted application of smart building technology is its ability to reduce buildings’ overall energy consumption. This can be achieved in a number of ways, from matching energy use to occupancy levels to identifying energy leaks early. As such, smart buildings can be optimised to run leaner – meaning smaller energy bills and significant cost savings.

2.Smart buildings help you spot and repair faults earlier.

Smart buildings enable facilities managers to proactively monitor and maintain equipment, so that faults are spotted and repaired earlier and major breakdowns are avoided all together. In addition, businesses can use smart building data to guide purchasing decisions when choosing appropriate replacement equipment or materials, opting for the buy that will deliver the greatest return on investment over the course of the building’s life cycle.

3.Smart buildings use less water.

Smart building technology can also be utilised to manage and monitor a building’s water use, and so guide the development of more efficient, less wasteful systems. For example, smart sensors can be used to detect moisture levels and optimise irrigation systems, while the installation of sensor-operated water fixtures can reduce water waste in plumbing systems. Such actions prove useful in cutting down on waste water and, accordingly, water bills.

4.Smart buildings cut down on waste.

Similarly to above, smart building technology can be used to achieve zero waste to landfill management goals. For example, facilities managers can track the amount of waste being processed through, for example, printing, and then monitor the percentage of this that is being recycled. Such insights can then be used to guide targeted programmes aimed at reducing waste. A less wasteful business is a more financially sound business. 

5.Smart buildings belong on the smart power grid.

It’s not just buildings that are getting smart about energy use – it’s the entire power grid itself. Energy suppliers are increasingly moving towards ‘smart grids’, dynamic power consumption systems whereby electricity rates rise and fall in line with real-time demand, and buildings can adapt their energy usage accordingly. This not only enables businesses to optimise their energy use to take advantage of lower rates, but also opens up the possibility of power suppliers being able to project periods of high energy demand and offer businesses financial incentives to reduce their energy use at this time. Either way, a smart grid equates to smart energy savings.

6.Smart buildings are more comfortable.

In addition to running more efficiently, smart buildings can also be finely tuned for occupant comfort. For example, in-built sensors can detect temperature levels in different parts of the facility and adapt the heating and ventilation systems accordingly, or predict when a section of the facility is on the verge of becoming overcrowded and initiate preventive measures. Such actions will make the experience of being inside the facility more pleasant, both for employees and for customers or clients – and, in so doing, lead to increased productivity and profitability.

7.Smart buildings are safer.

Smart buildings have the capacity to reduce operational risks and improve security systems – both of which create safer environments for employees, customers and clients. For example, facilities managers can use real-time sensors to monitor security systems from afar, or employ advanced analytics to examine accident and incident reports and identify areas for improvement.

8.Smart buildings are healthier.

Smart building technology has the power to create healthier, more hygienic environments – something that can improve customer and client satisfaction when visiting the facility, and also reduce employee ill health and absenteeism. For example, facilities managers can optimise cleaning schedules that respond for real-time use, or install sensors that monitor indoor air quality. 

9.Smart buildings make facilities managers more efficient.

Smart buildings make it easier than ever for facilities managers to monitor and control multiple systems from one central platform. This is particularly true as an increasing number of systems employ machine-to-machine communication to create networks of interoperable, connected devices – the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). As data passes between systems more freely, facilities managers will enjoy deeper insights and more efficient working processes, both of which will allow them to do their jobs more effectively. 

10.Smart buildings facilitate improved reporting. 

The data generated by smart building technologies can be used to gain unprecedented insights into facilities’ true energy usage, carbon emissions and more, allowing for the creation of more detailed and accurate reporting. These can be used to demonstrate that a business is complying with sustainability regulations, and so avoid hefty fines.

11.Smart buildings improve a business’ profile.

Investing in smart building technology not only demonstrates that a business is forward-thinking and an innovator; it also demonstrates its sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This can improve a business’ public profile while also helping to attract high-quality talent and contributing to employee satisfaction levels – all of which equates to profitability.

12.Smart buildings enable data-driven innovation.

By investing in smart buildings, businesses can benefit from unprecedented insights into all aspects of their facilities, from in-depth customer behaviour data to detailed carbon emission outputs. These insights pave the way for more informed decision making – and, ultimately, more informed innovation. 

As you can see, smart buildings offer better economic, social and environmental performance. If you’re interested in learning more about the economic benefits of taking a sustainable approach to business, download our free e-book The ‘Convenient’ Truth About Sustainable Business: Why It Pays To Be Green.

Want to find out how OCS can help you manage your facilities more environmentally and cost-effectively? View our facilities management page to learn more, or contact us on 0844 846 7608.