Here are intelligent technology integrations for a smarter building.
By Mark Reinbold
As facility managers or directors, you likely want to have it all. You strive to deliver the best environment possible for occupants every day: one that is comfortable, safe and productive. But at the same time, you also need to keep your own internal operational needs top of mind, like energy efficiency and equipment output.
The challenge is balancing these two goals – an improved environment and streamlined operations – within one overpacked budget. As technology constantly evolves, the best and most cost-effective way to achieve these two goals is through investing in a smart building environment.
Powering Your Building
Smart buildings are typically defined as facilities that have been fully outfitted with automated, intelligent and connected technologies and integrations. However, smart can start with integrating previously siloed systems like HVAC, security, building automation and lighting onto one connected network helping your building to work at maximum capacity.
Through integration, building systems can communicate with one another to effectively streamline your facility’s operations. Allowing these disparate systems to “talk to each other” results in data-driven operations that improve efficiency and sustainability. You receive more output from your equipment for less energy input, whether that’s rooftop units or smart LED lighting infrastructure. And with all systems connected onto one network, with the right solutions, you can manage your building’s operations from one easy-to-use interface.
These integrations also generate more data than siloed systems can provide, giving you valuable insight into exactly where inefficiencies are occurring, and where there are opportunities for improvements. From equipment analysis to repairs, your internal processes are streamlined to make your building’s day-to-day management easier.
While these technology integrations improve operational processes for you and your team, they also improve the building environment for your occupants. They contribute to a space that is designed to anticipate and meet their evolving needs. For instance, connecting smart lighting and HVAC systems with access controls in an office building results in a seamless experience for personnel as they go about their day.
When they use their access badge to enter a room, lighting and cooling systems are automatically activated without the employee ever having to think about it. Just by being accessed, the room has prepared itself for the occupants’ optimal comfort. And when they leave the room, the integrated systems can shut down, saving your business valuable op-ex dollars maintaining unoccupied rooms. When technology integrations like these are implemented across an entire facility or even venue, equipment output and occupant and visitor comfort are maximized on a larger scale, making their effects even more impactful.
Once you decide a smart building strategy is right for your business, transitioning your facility to a smart building environment can be intimidating – but you’re likely closer than you think. To keep the project on schedule and under budget, consider taking an outcome-focused approach from the very beginning. Work with your project stakeholders to determine your desired outcomes up front, whether they are to improve efficiency or address aging equipment.
By outlining your end goals before design or construction ever begins, you can keep the project on track from start to finish. From there, you can determine what existing infrastructure is already in place, what new technologies must be implemented, and what partners will need to be involved. A roadmap can be created to guide you through the entire smart building implementation process.
Of course, spending concerns will always be a factor when it comes to large-scale retrofitting projects. Budgetary constraints can often cause painful timeline delays, or even derail a smart building project entirely. Through funding alternatives like Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) and performance contracting, you can deliver a fully integrated smart building environment without sacrificing your budget.
These funding programs allow for necessary upgrades and retrofitting projects to be completed in the short term for immediate results and can be paid back over an agreed-upon amount of time. With funding squared away, your project can be completely driven by your goals, rather than your budget restrictions.
Reach Your Business Goals
For businesses that are ready to innovate, smart building solutions are worth the investment; connecting your facility systems through strategic technology integrations ultimately results in an improved experience for occupants and streamlined operations for your business. You can optimize comfort and safety within your building while simultaneously increasing equipment efficiency and output – it’s a win-win.
Diving into your smart building project doesn’t have to be difficult and budget draining. Through an outcome-focused approach and the right funding program, you can achieve your smart building vision on time without going over budget. Staying focused on your personal business goals keeps your project on track. And when your project is complete, you have a building environment that is smarter than the competition.
As vice president and general manager, Performance Infrastructure at Johnson Controls Building Solutions North America, Mark Reinbold is responsible for delivering sustainable infrastructure projects to customers in healthcare, education and government through innovative technical, risk transfer and financial solutions.