Why Workplace Leaders are Comparing Energy Use to Real-time Occupancy

by James McDonald on June 14, 2016

Society, as a whole, has been conscious of the benefits behind energy conservation and ‘going green’ for many years now. Until recent, however, our efforts were more about saving the environment and less about saving our businesses money, as the savings opportunities were typically viewed as inconsequential. Fast forward to present day and, with the emergence of smart technology and business software, organizations can reap the conservation rewards on multiple levels, realizing long-term savings on their investments as well as helping to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

Imagine running a 300,000 square foot building, managing over 1,000 people and their business tools on a daily basis. The workplace manager is expected to constantly keep aware of everyone and their fluctuating energy needs to ensure maximum performance, while also considering how to reduce the business’ overall energy consumption. How do you maximize output yet minimize expenditures. And how do you even begin to identify what aspects of the facility are utilizing too much energy at which times and how to stem the flow? Additionally, is there even a notable savings behind such an investment?

Many businesses have found the answer through the adoption of an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) with smart solutions, such as CommScope’s intelligent building-performance lighting systems. Let’s see how this business tool can work for you.

Building Automation Saves Both Time & Money

How nice would it be to show up for the presentation you scheduled at 3pm, only to find that the lights are already on, the room is cooled to a comfortable temperature, and the A/V equipment is set up and in working order? Furthermore, the room was readied less than thirty minutes prior, did not require additional workforce assistance and wasn’t left vacant and consuming energy for the majority of the day. Sounds like a dream, right? After all, you have enough tasks on your list to ensure the meeting goes off without a hitch. As thWhy_Comparing_Energy_Usage.jpge facilities leader, wouldn’t it be nice to know the HVAC system is scheduled to be serviced next week, based on hours used and energy generated, for a more precise use of both time and energy? With a little investment on the front-end, this can be your reality; and your organization can save money in the process. Let’s learn a little more about how this works.

Many organizations have started to invest in intelligent building-performance systems that offer dynamic, real-time building data and information. These systems come with sensors that are activated when someone enters the workspace. It monitors usage and identifies patterns, based on real-time occupancy and asset/space utilization. But this smart technology goes beyond just occupancy; its sensors can determine the amount of sunlight in a room and will respond accordingly, adjusting the degree of lighting and air conditioning, based on the current situation. Your smart building not only helps in controlling energy costs, but will also ensure your workforce is always working in a comfortable environment, primed for maximum productivity. In fact, a study conducted by UCLA and the University of Paris-Dauphine found that employees at eco-friendly companies are 16% more productive than average, as they are more motivated, better trained, and formed more interpersonal relationships, increasing overall efficiency. Especially for the emerging next generation workforce, these kinds of conservation efforts don’t go unnoticed and can be of great importance when weighing their decision on where to start and continue a career.

Your IWMS & Smart Building Working Together

So, you’ve scheduled a conference, through your Room Reservation software, which starts at 3pm today. The software communicates with your building’s smart system, so the room is ready when participants arrive. The equipment turns on, the lights are activated, and the air conditioning is set to a comfortable temperature. When the meeting attendees arrive, they check in through the software, notifying the building’s smart system that the room is in use. Since the room has sensors as well, it will automatically identify how many people are present, via their body heat emissions, and adjust room conditions accordingly. If the meeting is cancelled, moved, or no one shows up, the systems will communicate with each other and adjust the schedule, as needed.

The key to a smart building is integration: linking building solutions together and then to your IWMS. As time goes on, your system gains new capabilities that help meet organizational needs. Your lights, HVAC, carbon dioxide sensors, and security are all able to communicate with each other, coordinating and adjusting to your dynamic needs. In short, smart systems become smarter over time.

But, your energy efficiency measures will transcend simply turning on lights and adjusting the temperature. Over time, it begins to identify and adjust to organizational patterns. If someone enters the break room at the same time every day for three months, it builds up historical data and will adjust the systems accordingly. Not only will it adjust to you, but you have the ability to view a breakdown of usage by weeks, months, time of day, etc.

From a facility maintenance standpoint, your asset and maintenance software tools can be tied into the smart system to identify when equipment has been serviced and how often they’re being utilized. Based on this information, it can identify thresholds and trigger service requests accordingly. This improves the overall life of equipment, while ensuring your enterprise doesn’t pay for servicing on a unit that is underutilized and not in need of maintenance. Your maintenance software is probably already dispatching work orders based on a schedule; now you can base these frequencies on the details that affect the overall health of the equipment.

A study performed by The Commonwealth Fund and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed some staggering numbers. Hospitals who are implementing energy use reduction, waste reduction, and more efficient operating room supplies could realize a savings of over $5.4 billion in just five years.

While this technology has been around for several years now, it has always been regarded as a tool for big businesses who occupy a larger footprint. As organizations learn more about the benefits and return on their investment, small to medium-sized businesses have pushed for a product that is affordable, with the small enterprise in mind. These tools, when integrated, have become increasingly valuable for both workplace managers and businesses as a whole. The improve organizational efficiency and processes, offering valuable data and reporting that is critical in making smart business decisions.

“From a building operating point of view,” says Jim Patterson of Childress Klein Properties, “they are more effective to operate, cheaper to operate and offer so much upside potential for future efficiencies that we haven’t even thought of yet.”


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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