Building Internet of Things: Minor Challenges, Major Benefits
Cost and overcoming an old-school mentality may be challenging. But using data and advanced analytics to meet high-performance building standards like LEED and WELL more than make up for the challenges.
Although the ability to track new information with interconnected data systems is extremely appealing, it can come with a few initial challenges.
The main barrier to overcome is an old-school mentality. Testing systems once a year or metering utilities every quarter will not provide as robust data as regular, real-time monitoring. Big data may seem overwhelming, but software applications can turn raw data into insights for better asset management.
Upfront cost is another inevitable challenge; however, once systems are up and running, that cost is outweighed by the ROI provided by cheaper utility bills. These technologies have also reduced time spent on corrective maintenance. Studies have shown reactive maintenance can take up to 98 percent of facility staff time, leaving only a small percent for preventive maintenance. Leveraging data into actionable items allows operators to focus on solving the problems instead of searching for them.
These technologies can offer benefits for all sizes and types of buildings. From portfolio-level integration to single tenant spaces, Building IoT systems perform with less inconsistency and far more predictable performance. From small sensors to whole building monitoring, these technologies have been designed for flexibility to adapt along with new building codes, providing less frequent equipment replacements. With real time controls, you can obtain immediate feedback on current conditions for day-to-day operations.
For facilities designed to high performance building standards, their infrastructure is fully capable to take advantage of the IoT technology. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system includes points for performing monitoring-based commissioning, installing advanced metering of energy and water, and enrolling in demand response programs. The International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard requires lighting adjustments for circadian rhythm and intensive water quality monitoring.
Facility managers play a critical role to ensure their buildings are in fact performing to these sustainability standards, especially with new certification options such as RESET – the world’s first sensor-based and performance-driven building standard. This certification program is centered around real time IAQ monitoring, leading the industry to prioritize ongoing results and long-term occupant health. In addition to green building certification frameworks, there are many other solutions available to get started.
One recent project examined the effects of ongoing IAQ monitoring and office productivity levels. After employee feedback indicated poor indoor air quality within conference room spaces, an IAQ monitoring device was installed to detect any ventilation issues and help understand their occupant comfort at a granular level. Concentrations monitored included particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity. Results showed pollutant levels that prompted immediate actions — replacement of white board cleaners with a more sustainable product, upgrade of AHU filters, and increased ventilation settings. This quantitative IAQ analysis delivered easily accessible data ranging from facility costs and saving opportunities to building health and wellness impacts.
Facility managers are constantly challenged to balance strategies for reducing costs, mitigating risk, increasing efficiency, and prioritizing sustainability. The industry is rapidly shifting to Building IoT and cloud-based building management to address these challenges with powerful new technologies.
Katie Stanford (firstname.lastname@example.org) works on the sustainable building team for Stok, a San Francisco-based green building consulting firm. Stanford is a LEED O&M Accredited Professional and a Fitwel Ambassador.