Donna Moore says LoRaWAN technology can helps buildings get smart.

Managing commercial properties has become more challenging than ever, between the conflicting needs of owners to keep costs down and renters wanting a safe and comfortable experience, not to mention the escalating costs across from energy to insurance. Buildings need efficiencies and are an excellent fit for Internet of Things (IoT) enabled services, which improve the tenant experience and reduce building management costs.

Many buildings already use building management systems (BMS), which are most often hardwired systems installed during construction that automate building management with limited functions. LoRaWAN is a low-power, long range networking technology that complements BMS’ by providing critical information on building health and tenant usage, making it easy and cost effective to add-on IoT functionality in buildings without connecting into current BSM or IT infrastructures. Data can be transmitted through concrete, metal and underground, where other networking solutions struggle.

LoRaWAN-connected devices can be used to monitor and manage power, heat, cooling, gas, water, air quality and lighting-related energy consumption more efficiently–and provide real-time data on leaks, energy usage, occupancy patterns, security and environmental conditions. Additionally, LoRaWAN is an open standard backed by a large ecosystem of vendors, giving building managers a wide variety of solutions that can be tailored to meet their specific needs. It also means that building managers do not need to worry about being “locked-in” to a single source vendor, ensuring flexibility over the building’s lifetime.

The ROI of adding LoRaWAN

The list of applications that LoRaWAN can make “smart” in a building is long; some of the widest adoption to date has been for:

  • Leak detection (water/gas)
  • Air quality, temperature/humidity monitoring & smoke/vape detection
  • Equipment monitoring/predictive maintenance (boilers, exhaust fans, elevators)
  • Door and window condition (open/closed)
  • Energy management & conservation (lighting, HVAC)
  • Safety (lighting, panic buttons)
  • Structural integrity
  • Predictive cleaning
  • Space utilization and optimization
  • Pest control
  • Parking

By implementing LoRaWAN, managers have real time access to data, which offers insight they need to optimize conditions, prevent catastrophic damage and better utilize space and maintenance resources. To understand the return on investment (ROI) of deploying LoRaWAN, let’s look at some examples:

  • Water and gas leak detection offers a compelling use case. Insurance costs have increased by more than 300% since 2017, so any steps a building manager can take to improve monitoring not only prevent millions in damages but can also drive down insurance costs due to reduced risk. Kairos is a LoRa Alliance member who has seen strong results in this space delivering customers ROI in just 6 months by preventing property loss.
  • Gas leaks also present a huge risk to buildings and their users, which has led many local governments to mandate increased monitoring. Alliance member ProSentry recently showcased one of its many LoRaWAN monitoring solutions that saves lives and property by alerting staff to the exact location and severity of gas leaks within seconds, allowing them to address a gas leak up to 10 times faster than unmonitored situations.
  • Energy conservation is another application that affords a rapid and high ROI when LoRaWAN is used to collect and use data to optimize heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Nordic Propeye, also a LoRa Alliance member, has successfully achieved up to 30% energy reduction across its properties and ROI within a year in buildings equipped with LoRaWAN.

Real-time access to data enables buildings to be truly smart. Using technologies like LoRaWAN that are fit-for-purpose–meaning they meet the unique networking challenges of buildings–and are open standards allow building managers and owners to save costs and improve the experience of building occupants.