The potential efficiency doesn’t stop at making sure meeting participants have whiteboards and videoconferencing equipment. Some IWMS suites are made to integrate with your existing building management system, but even those that don’t can play an important role in your energy management efforts – you just have to develop the right practices to go with it.
“The most important thing is to understand how you want things to work first,” Roof explains. “For example, if you’re going to be turning off heating and cooling in the space, how long does it take to heat or cool the room? Make sure you’re not just turning things on at the beginning of the meeting and turning them off at the end. If there’s another meeting in an hour, it doesn’t make sense to turn the heating or cooling off – leave it on or start the heating or cooling process before the meeting so the room is at a proper temperature. If you square away those kinds of details first, it becomes a lot easier to translate the schedule data into a heating and cooling schedule. Those two things usually do not correlate one to one.”
If you do have a building management system that controls HVAC, consider linking it to the IWMS, Roof recommends. This way, you can implement rules that ensure room temperatures are maintained at a comfortable level during meetings, but raised or lowered to a more efficient level when the space is vacant.
This practice is best adopted for areas that aren’t used constantly and for recurring, regularly scheduled meetings, Roof adds.
“Rooms that have a lot of last-minute bookings may not be ideal candidates for heating and cooling integration,” Roof says. “Meetings that have set schedules or places that tend to get booked in advance but don’t have a high amount of change are better rooms to control. If people are entering throughout the day, it’s hard to turn systems on quickly enough to make the room comfortable.”
The schedule itself can only tell you so much about building occupants’ behavior. Specifically, it keeps track of their plans in minute detail, but doesn’t note whether those meetings actually took place, how many of the attendees showed up, or how long they occupied the room.
If you have plans to implement IWMS software, consider specifying a trending component or tying in occupancy sensors. This will help you develop a clearer picture of how space is utilized, which you can then use to encourage behavior changes or make needed adjustments.
“If you have less than 40% utilization in your conference rooms or other spaces, people tend to stop scheduling them because there’s always a space available,” Roof notes. “Once you get above that 40% threshold, people become very good at scheduling because they’re not sure whether they’re going to have a space. When you hit around 85%, their behavior changes again and they start booking space just because they might need it – the space is in such high demand that it’s hard to find a location. These are the things you have to consider when you’re looking at your utilization data.”