Geert van Offeren, former business consultant, Planon looks at how organisations can realise the benefits of smart buildings.
Organisations, and more specifically their Facility and Real Estate Managers, are constantly looking to improve our work environment and the buildings we work in. At the same time, they want to be cost efficient, increase productivity, and – very important these days – create a healthy and attractive workplace for their employees.
Smart building technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are providing valuable opportunities to improve our work environments. Achieving this, however, is still a big challenge for most organisations. What smart building solutions are organisations looking for? What is the real value to organisations? And most importantly, how will organisations realise these benefits?
From a reactive to a proactive approach through ‘machine learning’
The ability of sensors in buildings to measure every action or change in asset performance or its occupants behaviour is changing rapidly. Nowadays, affordable sensors that are easy to implement or are already integrated in buildings and assets are available to measure, for example, space occupancy, air quality, usage of specific spaces or the state of assets. The enormous amount of ‘big data’ collected from these sensors provides information about the buildings, the assets and the people. We can use this data to make improvements to the work environment, buildings and user experience. For example, when sensors indicate that a meeting room that was reserved is not in use, it can immediately become available for other people looking for a meeting room. In addition, when sensor measurements show that a specific toilet area is used less than expected, the cleaning schedule can be adjusted. These useful examples are based on an ‘If This Then That’ scenario, meaning that if an event occurs, we react to that event. This is a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach, so can we really call this ‘smart’?
As my colleague David Karpook described in the article ‘How Buildings Learn’ at the end of 2017, the intelligence of buildings is rapidly evolving to the next level. Smart building technology and IoT provide buildings and equipment with the ability to collect, aggregate and analyse data. Additionally, ‘machine learning’ enables buildings to learn and make predictions and become so-called ‘learning’ buildings.
Machine learning is a method that allows us to make reliable, repeatable decisions by learning from historical relationships and trends in the data. Buildings that can learn and predict are then becoming connected and human-centric, and intelligent workspaces with an intuitive awareness and learning and predictive ability of occupancy and utilisation for example. Buildings really become ‘smart’. This makes it easier for Facility Managers and Real Estate Managers to monitor, manage, learn and make predictions about their buildings and to improve their building performance. For example, with learning and predictive analysis the Facility Manager or Real Estate Manager pro-actively adapts the space to meet demand, while enabling longer-term strategic space and real estate decision making. In the end this enables organisations to create an effective, attractive and healthy workplace and enables their employees to do their jobs in a more efficient and pleasant way.
What is the value of smart and learning buildings?
This is just one example of the potential value of smart and learning buildings. Smart building technology and IoT provide us with an enormous potential of use cases. However, what is the real value of measuring all these types of behaviour and collecting data on the buildings and their occupants? And how and when do we really create smart and learning solutions in and around our buildings? This is where an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) comes in. In Planon’s white paper ‘Transforming smart building technology’ you can learn about a real-time and dynamic integration of a smart building technology platform with an IWMS. This integration drastically improves the performance of both buildings and business by providing better alignment between your portfolio strategy and its technical performance and needs.
For organisations and their Facility and Real Estate Managers, it is crucial to research what use cases are relevant and valuable to their organisation. What specific smart solutions is the organisation looking for? And are these really smart solutions that provide learning and predictive analysis? In addition, organisations must determine the specific business case from both a quantitative (costs) and qualitative (user experience, building performance) perspective for each relevant use case. What is the real value of the use case and related smart solution? Establishing your use case and business case for your Smart and Learning Building solution, that is where the smart journey starts to an attractive, healthy, efficient and effective workplace that supports the organisation’s objectives.
If you are interested in learning more about Smart Buildings, you should sign up for our upcoming webinar, ‘Turning Smart Building Diagnostics into Smart Actions with IWMS.’