Social, environmental, and technological influences have changed facilities management (FM) as we know it. Both smart buildings and buildings with a traditional automation system utilize software, a fully optimized front-end user interface, as well as a host of programming protocols to control the functions of HVAC, lighting, and other building operational systems. Thanks to our growing digital landscape, a focus on sustainability, and end-user demands, significant changes are beginning to shape how buildings are designed, operated, and used, making it increasingly clear that intelligent buildings are the wave of the future. We’ve broken down everything you need to know.
When discussing traditional building automation vs. smart space, it’s important to note that the capabilities and the value provided to building owners and managers tremendously differ when comparing these two concepts.
In a traditional building automation system, critical components include the ability to assist facility management in reducing energy waste by utilizing optimized scheduling, occupancy sensors, motion detectors, and additional smart devices. Automated sensor controls in HVAC can monitor the activity of the building and alter your system settings when needed. Smart buildings then take this a step further by analyzing and interpreting new and historical data to manipulate the environment. The overall control of the property becomes “intelligent” in its ability to learn situations and make informed decisions that alter building operations for optimal efficiency.
Radiant Heating Outdoors
The installation of hydronic or electric in-slab heating systems for exterior concrete surfaces has become another growing trend. Not only do these concrete heating systems eliminate the need for snow plowing and excessive shoveling, but they also help prevent potential damage from snow removal equipment and corrosive deicers.
A common misconception surrounding this technology is the need for new concrete slabs for the installation of these snow and ice melting systems rather than leveraging existing surfaces. However, that is not entirely accurate. Many heating systems can now be retrofitted to existing concrete slabs allowing anyone to benefit from the maintenance-free heated walkways.
Higher efficiency standards
The U.S. Department of Energy implemented minimum efficiency requirements that are continuously changing, resulting in the HVAC industry, adjusting building equipment to become more efficient and cost-effective. In 2018, energy consumption for the operation of residential and commercial properties accounted for roughly 40% of the total energy consumed in the United States. Building owners and managers can no longer approach energy efficiency as optional, but rather a best practice.
A report from Energy Star states that the average commercial building wastes up to 30% of the energy it consumes due to building inefficiencies. These higher efficiency standards begin by first committing to assessing the overall performance, benchmarking and setting new goals, creating an action plan, implementing an action plan, evaluating progress, and recognizing achievements. Currently, there are several tried and true ways to maintain higher energy efficiency in your property, including:
- Connecting office electronics to “smart” power strips that let you control which devices always stay on, such as building servers and those that can be powered down, such as desk lamps.
- Activating sleep settings on office devices such as printers, copiers, fax machines, and scanners, so they automatically enter a low-powered sleep mode when inactive.
- Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. To enable this function, visit www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.
- Consolidate stand-alone office equipment to achieve a ratio of one device (typically a networked multifunction device) per 10 or more users. Typical cost savings can reach 30 to 40 percent for electricity, hardware, consumables (paper, ink, and toner), and maintenance.
- Regularly change or clean HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
- Adjust thermostats for seasonal changes as well as evenings and other times when there is zero occupancy.
- Make sure that areas in front of vents are clear of furniture and paper. As much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked.
- Shorten the preventive maintenance intervals for replacing air handler filters. These keep the air clean and prevent equipment from working harder to force air through dirty filters.
- Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on heat pumps, air-conditioners, or chillers. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; keeping them clean saves energy.
- Repair leaks, replace malfunctioning steam trap, update insulation to meet operating and ambient conditions, and adjust the pressure in compressed air systems.
- Keep exterior doors closed while running your HVAC. It sounds simple, but it will help avoid wasteful loss of heated or cooled air!
Facilities management has become a strategic investment. Businesses have identified that having a well-maintained building (i.e., utilities and physical building) assists in effectively and efficiently running a business. Building owners/managers have a better understanding of the significant benefits this new FM era can provide.
If you’re ready to embrace the future of FM or want to learn more, contact us.