Sustainability has been a popular buzzword in conversations around built environments for a while. However, it has yet to evolve into a mainstream and tangible component of buildings.
This can largely be attributed to the piecemeal approach to sustainability. Despite greater attention over the last few years, sustainability is often seen as part of the whole in facilities management, or as just an annual audit activity.
But the fact remains that too many buildings waste a lot of energy in the form of leakages, overuse, poorly serviced assets and simple human errors such as not switching off a piece of equipment or not updating temperature settings.
This routine waste is often overlooked in traditional building management. To fix this concern, we must embed sustainability into daily building operations.
Consider a Smart, Enterprise Approach to Sustainability
Sustainability initiatives have typically focused on tangible measures such as lighting retrofits, glass and insulation updates, or improved HVAC systems.
While these contribute toward some improvement in sustainability metrics, the impact so far has been minimal. Legacy solutions struggle with information silos, as well as cost, time and labor-intensive models. The key is in smart building technology featuring improvements based in Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
The key is a data-driven enterprise platform that optimizes usage and consumption across building systems and portfolios. These smart platforms can deliver continuous, quantifiable and meaningful everyday sustainability.
IoT technologies can centralize collation of real-time performance data. Followed by the creation of actionable insights for targeted and unified process control via artificial intelligence (AI), smart platforms can deliver a powerful and effective enhancement of legacy FM business models.
Data Empowers Owners and Facilities Managers
Data driven decision-making empowers building owners and facilities managers to anticipate, troubleshoot and manage issues. Essentially, this insight-rich model makes operations predictive rather than reactive, enabling smarter operations that can reconcile the entire range of optimal performance metrics for sustainability.
[Read also: Provider Trust Critical to Overcoming Connected Building Challenges]
Such an enterprisewide approach generates synergy, unifies information silos and transforms the passive operations of the previous generation of technologies into an interactive, agile and predictive new model. The basis of the approach is not to replace but to transform existing automation by unlocking and activating potential.
Digitize the entire process—from measurement, waste detection and analytics, to facility management workflow—and fix and verify. Centralize operational control over their entire portfolio, across any breadth of geography and locations. Facilities teams can achieve this even when buildings have different automation systems and multiple facilities management vendors.
By integrating with pre-existing building systems and make existing data streams available for interpretation, such a platform can enable customers to upgrade their systems to a far greater sustainability performance, with minimal capital investment.
In fact, greater diversity of learnings and insights can be leveraged to set updated benchmarks and build an enhanced knowledge base across the entire portfolio.
Continually Measure, Analyze and Fix in Real Time
An enterprise platform can help buildings unify the silos of information across their systems and drive sustainability across operations and maintenance. Consider the following five-step approach:
1. Measure energy consumption for defined purposes (e.g. HVAC, lighting, business operations, miscellaneous).
2. Analyze energy consumption data with regard to factors like weather, operational hours, type of building (office, retail, education), number of occupants, etc., and identify anomalies in energy consumption patterns based on historic and benchmarked information.
3. Extract insights from analyzed data (e.g. percentage of increase in consumption, on which floor, during what time and from which purpose/equipment).
4. Filter out the exact problem and create a customized workflow to have the right person from the facilities management team address the issue.
5. Fix the problem by helping technician with data sets and insights to easily find and fix the root cause. All this is done in real-time and not as a retrospective action and with visibility and collaboration between different teams.
Enable Proactive and Predictive Energy Management
Maintaining energy efficient buildings demands a proactive approach to asset performance. An enterprisewide, data-driven platform offers key predictive asset management capabilities integrated with energy analytics.
This allows building owners and facility managers leeway to understand consumption patterns and allows future performance to be optimized based on occupancy levels, weather, time of day and day of week.
Predictive energy efficiency features also can help estimate deviations in energy usage by identifying inconsistencies in usage patterns. Granular analysis of portfoliowide energy consumption data, as well as assisted fix and best practice tips, serve as a further validation for this investment in sustainability.
Embedding sustainability into day-to-day building operations requires buy-in from all stakeholders. Achieving that creates a lasting impact to enable continuous sustainability.
An enterprisewide platform with AI and IoT capabilities can encourage stakeholder engagement by using technology that allows sharing of relevant data, metrics and progress assessed against established benchmarks, as well as to keep everyone aware and motivated and to contribute toward sustainability goals.
[On topic: The Demand for Sustainable Materials]
Facility managers and building owners are hard-pressed today to improve their ROI metrics and meet sustainability regulations while meeting occupant and tenant expectations. But sustainability in buildings has now gone beyond just being a regulatory mandate. It has become central to being seen as progressive, modern and environmentally responsible.
Is Your Building Future-Proofed?
Today’s building owners and facility managers must integrate legacy buildings and systems with new facilities expansions. It’s also vital to use evidence-based data to make informed decision while optimizing energy consumption. An enterprisewide technology platform that harnesses data insights can add smart sustainability and help you leapfrog to an era of tangible and sizeable benefits.
About Prabhu Ramachandran: Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc., an enterprise-wide platform for facilities operations and maintenance across real-estate portfolios. Ramachandran’s career spans over 18 years of product, business and customer experience focused on enterprise-scale software for IoT-based connected services, sustainable building solutions and telecom network management.
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