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What's the easiest path to smart buildings technology ROI?

Feb. 10, 2022
Investigating common areas within commercial property ownership that can offer a quick and easy ROI turnaround through investment in smart building technology.

It’s no secret that commercial property owners are quite savvy when it comes to investing in their assets. Thus, the ability to prove a quick return on investment is an absolute must for smart building projects.

Let’s look at three of the most common areas within commercial property ownership that can offer a quick and easy ROI turnaround via an investment in smart buildings technology.

1. Energy usage monitoring and automation

Energy usage is the largest operational expenditure for commercial properties. In fact, the cost can regularly exceed 30% or more of a building’s overall operating budget.

One way to intelligently cut back on energy usage while continuing to maintain appropriate levels of occupancy comfort is to connect building systems together on a modern network. Doing so allows for energy management systems (EMS) to be deployed with the intent of collecting, monitoring and analyzing energy usage data by way of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). The outcome of this analysis is to pinpoint to where energy usage is being wasted and how to rectify that waste.

This level of energy use monitoring can be extended further through the deployment of various smart-building IoT sensors that can monitor temperature, humidity, air flow, lighting levels and where occupants currently reside within a building or campus. Based on this collected data, HVAC, smart lighting and other in-building systems can be adjusted to reduce energy consumption in areas where it’s not needed.

2. Manual task reductions through automation

A second significant operating expense for commercial property owners can be found in the facilities, physical security and management staff hired to keep a building or campus functioning. ROI can be achieved here by automating many of the manual tasks currently handled by staff.

Doing so can either help to reduce employee headcount or free up employee time where it can be allocated on more pressing matters. Examples of technologies that can automate many manual tasks include:

  • Door controllers and monitors
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Remote monitoring and control of in-building systems
  • Digital signage
  • Smart lighting
  • Smart sanitation

3. Improving tenant experiences

It's important to understand that existing and prospective tenants are actively seeking out buildings and suites that can help streamline their business operations as well. While these types of smart building technology investments are more of a challenge to calculate an ROI for, they should not be ignored.

Implementing technology that enhances occupancy experience from an operational, comfort and health prospective, property owners can charge higher lease rates to recoup investment costs. Examples of in-building quality of experience technologies may include:

  • Building or campus-wide Wi-Fi
  • Digital conference room/flex space reservation systems
  • Physical security alerting systems
  • Intelligent air quality and sanitation systems
  • Capacity/occupancy management
  • Smart parking systems

Conclusion: Take the “low hanging fruit” approach to smart building ROI

The best way to go about ensuring an ROI within an existing property is to first determine where an investment can have the biggest impact. For most, energy conservation will be at the top of that list.

However, if a property already has intelligent energy management systems implemented, either the automation or occupancy experience paths should be looked at -- depending on whether the building owner is seeking to further reduce operational costs, or is more interested in finding more tenants at higher rent rates.

About the Author

Andrew Froehlich | Contributor

As a highly regarded network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, Andrew Froehlich counts over two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Andrew is the founder and president of Colorado-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build-outs. He’s also the founder of an enterprise IT research and analysis firm, InfraMomentum. As the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT-related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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