Next 10 Years Will Change the Way We Think about Buildings
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Buildings are social and cultural spaces where society’s biggest aspiration are built. Buildings influence people, their beliefs and their aspirations. As they go obsolete, old buildings are replaced by newer living spaces that go on to last for decades. Considerable money, time and effort go into constructing buildings, and a greater sum, into maintaining them. The larger question is, therefore, what happens after they are built?
The world is changing faster than ever before. Globally, the urban population has been skyrocketing in recent years, pushing up the demand for bigger and better buildings. However, the depth of thought and detailed planning that goes into the ‘design and construction’ stage seldom cascades into the post-construction phase of everyday operations. The reason would be obvious if we understand our walled-garden approach to building maintenance.
Research indicates that nearly 5-6 times the construction cost of a building is spent as operational costs during its lifetime. While most industries have gained tremendously from process and product innovation in the last few decades, the engineering and construction sector has lagged behind, in technology adoption. Digital age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and intelligent machine learning capabilities have all revolutionized the dynamics of operating and maintaining buildings. Today, technology can connect all integral parts of a building, its people, sustainability, and machines on a real-time platform to instantly improve efficiency on all fronts.
Here are three major areas where technology can solve the most critical problems faced by facilities managers, property owners and tenants.
Buildings and People:
Competition is high in the highly commoditized commercial real estate industry. The returns on investments can be delayed because of costs spiralling out of control due to its dynamic nature. In such a tough market, finding good tenants and retaining them is mission critical for real estate owners that directly affects investment cycles. To achieve success, it is imperative to drastically improve the living experience of tenants on top priority.
A malfunctioning air-conditioning unit can significantly impact workplace productivity. Despite having international guidelines in place such as ASHRAE and USGBC, most commercial real estate (CRE) owners of today don’t have unifying sufficient systems to support these standards due to legacy building management systems weighing on them. A well-serviced building positively impacts the tenant business continuity and strongly impacts the real and perceived value of the property.
CREs have been long relying on comparative benchmarking and market trends, or automation from traditional vendors that leave them wanting for modern, predictive facilities management. It is high time that CRE owners start looking at software-led technology to manage their distributed portfolio, even when multiple facilities management (FM) vendors and different building automation systems (BAS) function.
Buildings and Sustainability:
Buildings account for nearly 40 per cent of the world’s energy use. Despite several process changes and automation attempts, nothing really has stood out as a solution that embeds sustainability as an everyday practice. In legacy building management systems, a massive amount of data stays locked inside the numerous energy-producing machines and their associated automation systems. This siloed, unstructured data buries useful insights that could otherwise help optimize operations and achieve the highest energy efficiency.
This is the age of smart buildings. Today, software-led automation is set to transform the operational efficiency of buildings, from tracking consumption patterns, proactively fixing problems and improving workforce productivity to provide an enhanced tenant experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) has produced applications that help transform building maintenance data into actionable instant mobile notifications from being passive spreadsheet trackers. Faults can now be immediately detected and facilities teams alerted to fix them even before it affects the tenant experience.
Buildings and Machines:
Buildings are complex living structures. A sea of machines and equipment goes into maintaining and running them smoothly. Technology and automation have in the past, helped legacy building management to a certain extent. However, the multitude of disparate, siloed sensors, electro-mechanical equipment and control such as ventilation, lighting, fire-safety and security have never worked together in a unified manner. Traditionally, these systems have been designed to be localized and self-contained in nature, with no sharing of information. In traditionally managed buildings, a faulty AC can only be fixed as per a routine preventive maintenance schedule. Often, by the time an AC is tended to, premature wear and tear would have already done the damage.
With IoT-driven applications, huge amounts of data generated by these siloed systems can now be constantly monitored, analyzed and acted upon in real-time. Moreover, facilities teams can get ahead of the curve, know when machines are nearing their maintenance threshold, identify patterns with useful insights, and proactively fix them before a breakdown.
Reimagining Buildings With Real-time, Integrated Facilities Management:
Building owners have to start with a deep intent to improve the daily functions of a building with a long-term perspective. With IoT and machine learning (ML), the ability to capture, analyze and use the already-available big data presents a fantastic opportunity to fix all the pain points in facilities management. A software-led technology platform is thus a complete solution that changes the way we experience buildings, for today, and for tomorrow.