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CREATING A TRULY SMART BUILDING: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2019/11

Smartbuilding

​It’s proven that smart buildings save energy, improve productivity and streamline facilities management processes. However, for many businesses and building owners, the true value of smart buildings remains a mystery.  

Here, we answer some of the top questions about smart buildings, their impact on FM and how businesses can transform through more intelligent technology. 

We want to make our building ‘smarter’, but isn’t that going to be expensive? 

Not necessarily. Rome wasn’t built in a day and making small changes over an extended period can make a huge difference. Something like automated light adjustment which uses software that enables you to monitor and turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used is a straightforward and inexpensive way to introduce smart tech (while saving money on your electricity bills in the process). A similar setup can be applied to your heating and cooling systems. Remember, that smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one to two years through improvements in operational efficiencies and energy savings. 

Are smart buildings about saving energy? 

Although energy savings is a huge benefit of smart technology, it has a range of other advantages. Let’s look at FM: A smart building management system can detect when a piece of equipment is close to failure and alert facilities personnel when the problem needs to be fixed. This insight can help organisations reduce the number of facility staff required for a building and significantly lower replacement costs. On a bigger scale, smart management systems can prevent full-scale system failures, which can have a detrimental effect on any business. 

Doesn’t a building have to be new to be smart? 

Absolutely not! The only thing that qualifies a smart building is a return on investment in smart technologies. One of the best examples is the Empire State Building which was retrofitted with advanced technologies in a project that began in 2009. The owners had an ambitious target of 38 per cent reduction in energy consumption, which would return $4.4 million in energy savings per year, which the project has consistently beaten over the years since the start of the project. 

Are smart buildings challenging to operate? 

No. If combined with a smart building management system, a smart building is often easier to operate and maintain than one that isn’t. Once deployed, tech like AI and IoT requires minimal technical skills given that it makes decisions itself, generates reports and even offers suggestions via a dashboard. 

Are smart buildings and green buildings the same? 

In a way. Although a lot of features overlap, they’re not identical concepts. For example, smart buildings concentrate on monitoring heating, air conditioning, lighting and other systems to identify patterns and take actions to optimise usage and save energy. Also, smart buildings focus on improving the experience of those within the building. On the other hand, the main aim of green buildings is to have a minimal impact on the environment by making the most of the building’s natural environment.

What does smart technology mean for FMs? 

There’s no doubt that smart technology has had an immensely positive effect on FMs. Such tech captures valuable data which supports evidence-based decisions and enables increased action and control of the environment. It means an FM is able to shift from being reactive to becoming more operationally strategic for the business. 

Looking for smart insights in FM talent? Speak to the expert team at PRS today.