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5 Ways Smart Buildings Improve Your Bottom Line

CAFM

09/04/21 | Rebecca Drewett

Harnessing the full potential of smart building technology can have a dramatic impact on your company’s financial future. Discover some of the major long-term benefits you can gain from this software below.

A smart building is much more than just a trending buzzword in the FM industry. It describes the present and the future. One where building-generated data is used to ensure facilities run at maximum efficiency and deliver the best possible environment for employees, tenants or anyone else on site.

Already worth £61 billion at the end of 2020, the value of the smart buildings market is set to grow to a substantial £164 billion by 2026 – a near 270% rise in just 6 years. More and more organisations are now looking beyond the initial outlay for effective property management software and recognising the long-term financial benefits that this technology will generate.

If you are yet to make this realisation, or have previously been discouraged by the immediate investment into this software, here we emphasise 5 ways that smart building technology can help your bottom line look a lot healthier.

1. Energy consumption savings

Unquestionably, one of the most direct financial benefits that businesses can gain from smart building technology is in relation to energy consumption.

Energy usage is typically one of the most persistent drains on a building’s resources, and this has only grown over time – businesses in 2020 were paying 50% more for power than they were in 2016. Plus, there is the pressure of penalties attached to facilities in the coming years that don’t adhere to the obligations of the Paris Agreement with regards to reducing carbon emissions.

Non-domestic buildings are responsible for between 10% and 15% of carbon emissions [Smart Buildings Magazine]

However, the impact of power-hungry machinery, lighting, heating and similar systems can all be addressed and minimised – providing that you know your real-time energy usage. And this is where smart building sensors can make a massive difference.

These digital sensors can monitor any aspect of your facilities that uses power, from individual pieces of equipment, all the way to facilities-wide systems such as lighting, heating and air conditioning. This can measure their electricity intake and usage, supplying you with real-time data on whether this is at a reasonable level or excessively high.

By collecting this data from disparate systems into one central property management software solution such as Concept Evolution, FM professionals can easily track this for any irregularities. Even better, you should be able to set boundaries for acceptable energy usage and, once they are exceeded, your team can directly be alerted to where issues are, so you can determine whether they require equipment to be replaced or repaired.

Broken or faulty equipment can have a massive drain on your ongoing energy expenses. Having a system in place that is consistently tracking energy usage across all your equipment and immediately notifying you of any irregularities can therefore lead to substantial savings over time.

Furthermore, occupancy sensors can be used to track when rooms are occupied or vacant. Even leaving the lights or heating on for half an hour between meetings can be a costly and completely unnecessary waste of energy.

By connecting these sensors to your systems, you can make it so that they are automatically switched off once a room is left vacant, turning back on once they are occupied again. Over time these seemingly small energy savings can add up to massively benefit your bottom line year-on-year.

Smart buildings can save organisations 15% - 25% on energy costs [Smart Buildings Magazine]

2. Predictive maintenance

As noted, the use of digital sensors on equipment can give a strong indication of whether equipment, devices or systems within a facility need repairing or replacing altogether. However, the benefits of this smart building technology go further than energy savings.

Over time, the information that the sensors gather and store within your property management software solution can provide you with patterns of behaviour for different kinds of equipment:

  • How long do they typically run at optimal levels before they require repairs?
  • Are the same pieces of equipment performing better or have longer life cycles in different areas of the building?
  • How frequently do they require maintenance?

With this and further data, it can help you construct predictive maintenance schedules for your engineers based on the actual performance and behaviour of your equipment, rather than just what their manual says. This makes your engineers’ days more organised and efficient, meaning they can get more done day-to-day, leading to further financial benefits.

In addition, this information can help guide decisions on whether replacing an asset is more financially favourable compared to the cost of its maintenance needs. Plus, if equipment is performing better or lasting longer in different areas of the building, you can identify if factors such as heat, humidity, positioning, etc., are leading to inefficiencies that you can then rectify.

Reactive maintenance is up to 9 times more expensive than a predictive strategy [CORDIS]

3. Enhanced productivity levels

While this has a less direct benefit to your bottom line than the previous two points, there should be no questioning the value that a more productive, motivated workforce can have on the efficiency of your operations, and consequently your financial power.

Smart building technology is all about learning and improving. Over time these sensors will monitor the daily behaviours of employees or occupants and how they interact with each other. Then, with this information in hand, your property management software can begin to automatically adapt your environment to provide the greatest benefits to users.

For example, motion or occupancy sensors can determine the number of occupants within a room at a given time, and automatically adjust heating or HVAC systems to maintain the optimal temperature and humidity for that area.

This keeps employees happy, and therefore motivated to work at their very best. The same principle can be applied to facilities that house residents or retail environments to provide the best possible experience to customers.

Introducing a module such as our IoT Hub can actively harness the information collected by smart building sensors to create these positive working environments.

Furthermore, by tracking employee behaviours, even going as far as who they interact with most regularly as part of their working day, this technology can generate data that informs decision that will maximise your team’s productivity:

  • Highlighting available spaces if a company utilises hot-desking techniques
  • Organising employee seating so they are in closer proximity to people or resources they use regularly
  • Present viable meeting rooms based on an employee’s typical requirements and occupancy levels

Very soon, this technology will reach a stage where every individual's working day can be tailored to their precise needs, allowing them to feel at their most supported and productive.

4. Protecting employee health and wellbeing

As well as employee productivity, smart buildings software can also play a key role in supporting workplace wellbeing. Particularly in a post-COVID landscape, employees and occupants will want to know that their buildings are keeping them as safe and healthy as possible.

Smart buildings technology can help give them this reassurance in a number of ways:

  • Automatic adjustments of heating, HVAC and lighting to ensure they are optimal for a person’s wellbeing
  • Organising cleaning schedules of bathrooms, kitchens and work areas to improve the overall hygiene of your facilities
  • Monitoring people’s patterns to help determine safe routes for workers to take and spaces to occupy to minimise overcrowding issues
  • Safe Water Monitoring technology to ensure all drinking water on-site is totally clean and free of diseases such as Legionella
  • Leak Detection sensors to reduce the risk of standing water, resulting in the development of mould, fungi and mildew

This sounds great, but where does it benefit your bottom line? Beyond supporting employee motivation and productivity, this helps cut down the risk of employee absenteeism due to work-related illnesses, or trying to work through illness and hampering their productivity.

Presenteeism is estimated to cost employers 2-3 times more than direct medical care [HBR]

5. Superior space utilisation

The use of occupancy sensors, people counters and similar monitors can provide a ton of information over how spaces are used throughout a building or estate. It is not uncommon for areas of a workplace to be overpopulated, while others are left vacant nine times out of ten.

Property management software can make sure space doesn’t go to waste across your organisation by providing real-time data as to how it is employed day-to-day. If you determine that an area is not being utilised as much as it could be, you can rethink how it might be used to better effect to ensure it is more than just a drain on your property costs.

For instance, when Microsoft opened their renovated Outlook building in December 2018, the use of smart sensors provided data that allowed them to reduce space usage by 25%, which they then rented out to a coworking operator.

The National Grid meanwhile saved a substantial £8 million a year by optimising space in their building that was not being used to its fullest. The bottom-line benefits of a more deliberate approach to space management, backed by smart building technology, can be truly remarkable.

For instance, if your organisation covers five floors, but could effectively operate using only three, maybe you could make your operations significantly more streamlined and rent out the remaining space to another company to supplement your existing revenue?

Especially as more and more organisations transition to remote or flexible working practices, finding ways to make the most of available space throughout facilities is a big area that smart buildings technology can make a difference.

Work faster and smarter with property management software from FSI

These are just five of the most powerful ways that adopting smart building technology can have on your company’s financial future. Whether it is increasing productivity, eliminating energy inefficiencies or making better use of available space, property management software can benefit your company’s bottom line in several diverse ways.

However, it is essential that you choose a solution capable of unlocking this potential. If it is not planned or implemented properly, it may leave you with an underutilised, incorrectly applied system that is not helping your bottom line – in fact, it would be doing the exact opposite.

Concept Evolution is the ultimate solution for total building management. Our comprehensive CAFM/IWMS platform is designed to help you harness the immense data from across your buildings and use it to enhance efficiency throughout your facilities:

  • Track, control and manage performance quickly and seamlessly with intelligent, versatile sensors
  • Reap the benefits of data-rich IoT applications to increase the value of your portfolio
  • Capture all property data in one place in an easy-to-digest manner
  • Use this key information to devise strategies to reduce operating costs and create the best possible environment for your teams

Contact us today to discuss our property management solutions in more detail.