Blog - Commercial

20 November 2017

Why Smart Buildings Are a Smart Investment

Recently, we explored how technology is changing the way we work. In our article, we touched on a wide range of technological advancements, but arguably the most important and relevant is the rise of the smart building.

A smart building is any building that takes advantage of new technologies, the internet of things (IoT) and big data to intelligently control its operations and make better decisions.

Most buildings have some level of intelligence – whether it be in HVAC, AV, security, energy, lighting, signage or communication systems. However, the IoT is making it increasingly possible to tap into real data to reduce risks, decrease costs, save time and create a comfortable and user-friendly working environment for employees.

Here are four reasons why it makes sense to upgrade your building today.

1) Data Driven Decisions and Predictive Maintenance

A man welding with bright sparks

At the crux of smart buildings is data, and the ability to use that data to drive building performance. For example, smart integration can help reduce running costs through intelligent automation of HVAC and lighting systems – where a series of sensors maintain temperatures or automatically switch off lights based on usage patterns.

Smart infrastructure can also use the IoT and a combination of real-time and historical system data to predict hardware failures before they happen.

The benefits of this are enormous as most malfunctions are only picked up when they occur, which can lead to productivity downturn, loss of income and significantly higher repair costs.

2) Environmental Impact

A wind farm at sunset, a good way to lower environmental impact

It’s hardly surprising that the commercial property sector uses an enormous amount of energy. And with the continuing increase of electricity-dependent devices and systems (including IoT), there’s never been a greater need to control energy usage and reduce our carbon footprint.

In 2013, the US Energy Information Administration reported that commercial buildings accounted for nearly 20% of US energy use and 12% of greenhouse emissions. And, since then, research has shown that continuous monitoring of operations and implementing simple energy-efficiency strategies could decrease energy consumption figures by up to 30%!

For instance, an unnamed global financial services firm installed wireless sensors and controllers in its bank branch facilities to monitor HVAC and lighting. As a result, the company saw approximately 13% annual energy savings and saved another 5% in operating expenses because reduced the need for maintenance technicians.

Closer to home, in 2013, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute installed an integrated building system designed to manage all of the building’s technologies – from HVAC, to fire safety, lighting, building security and lab controls. The all-in-one platform has reportedly reaped 18% in energy savings across the whole building.

In 2012, IBMS, an Australian company that applies technology in the built environment, also released a case study that outlined an energy efficiency plan for Westfield shopping centres. As part of the project, an integrated extra low voltage system (IELVS) was used to centralise life safety, security, metering and lighting systems into one interface controlled locally or remotely.

The two pilot projects showed “year-on-year electricity savings exceeding 10%,” which is no small feat considering the immense size of Westfield’s complexes.

3) Economic Benefit & ROI

A piggy bank on a plain white background

When it comes to commercial property investments, ROI is critical, and many owners will only consider upgrades that yield the best economic results.

Luckily, the increasing availability of smart technologies continues to reduce costs. This means that today, installing systems – like wireless sensors and controllers – requires very little capital expenditure and can lead to significant energy savings that far exceed your initial investment.

CEO of CANDI, Steve Raschke, recently guested on the IoT@Intel Blog to discuss the ROI on energy management systems. Based on US figures, Raschke states that the average cost of installing a basic IoT system as $0.75 per square foot (that’s around AUD $10 per sqm). That investment yields an average energy saving of $2.32 per square foot (or AUD $30 per sqm).

Further to this, Raschke claims that by focussing on HVAC and lighting, it’s reasonable to “expect savings in the range of 10-25 per cent [in energy costs]”.

4) Increase Employee Productivity

Productive employees working together around one table

People are at their most productive at work when they’re comfortable. And, according to the World Green Building Council (WGBC), research shows that daylight, internal temperature and artificial lighting are the most critical factors.

Here are some fast facts from the WGBC:

  • Sensors that monitor temperature control to keep employees comfortable can raise productivity by 3%
  • Air quality can increase it by 11%
  • Lighting systems that adjust automatically depending on room brightness and automatic blinds that control natural light flow can achieve “a mammoth gain of 23%!”.

These kinds of numbers spurred Marc Howe from Sourceable to speak with James Bennett, the Managing Director of the Built Environment market of Aurecon on productivity through IoT and the new WELL building certificate. Bennett says that “Australian businesses aren’t sufficiently aware of the productivity benefits of intelligent buildings, or think it’s too hard and not a priority”.

To combat that mindset, Bennett says the WELL building certificate, from the International WELL Building Institute, could “really drive improvements to health and wellbeing of offices occupants” and inspire more Australian businesses to make those infrastructure changes.

Smart Building, Smart Investment

Abstract image of buildings and smart phone

Cost-effective smart integrations can reduce maintenance and repair costs, reap substantial energy savings, increase employee productivity and reduce your environmental footprint – sounds like a pretty smart move to us!

If you want to know more about the smart buildings that are currently available in Sydney’s CBD or city fringe areas, or how you can upgrade your commercial property, speak to the experts at TGC.

Date: 20 November 2017 Author: Steve Printezis
Portrait of Steve Printezis | Property Management Team TGC

About the author:

Steve Printezis

Steve has 20 years of real estate experience. Previously working with Colliers International, Charter Hall and Stockland, his specialities include property management, developing asset plans, leading high-performing teams, and developing in-house systems and processes.

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