Stepping into the future workplace with smart building systems

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April 30, 2021
Nick Applegarth

Building management systems BMS

Building management systems have long provided a way for organisations to manage their energy usage, but new, smarter systems are opening up the doors to greater control and insight, and offering organisations the tools to confidently step into the changed workplace.

Through one of our CKH Group companies we're already seeing how increased oversight and management can elevate energy from being a cost vacuum into a competitive advantage. From lighting and electrical power control to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and access control, there are countless systems at work in any one building at any given time. The potential for cost savings and efficiency gains is significant – our sister company is helping organisations to realise energy cost reductions of between 10%-40%. Today's building management systems are helping organisations take control of their energy usage through scheduling, where energy is only used when and where it's needed; programming, including heat source optimisation and auto-resets; and smart alarms, where changes in heat, power or air conditioning levels trigger notifications. Wrapped around all of this are the reporting functions and powerful insights that shine a spotlight on energy usage and indeed, wastage.

Increased visibility for proactive building management

Yet this is just the beginning of what is possible with better visibility, management and control. From retailers and factories to offices and restaurants smart building management has become an imperative, particularly in the face of rising energy costs, an increased focus on environmental targets, and ongoing global health restrictions.

Retailers have used their enforced closures to examine ways in which they can reduce costs and re-open safely once restrictions are lifted. Building management systems give them the tools to reduce their energy consumption by modifying in-store lighting and temperature based on occupancy and help them to comply with health guidance by monitoring customer footfall and dwell time in-store.

In the manufacturing sector, organisations are benefitting from smart systems that not only allow them to monitor air quality and emissions, but also combine with IoT and AI solutions to monitor equipment and predict maintenance requirements. With this predictive capability, manufacturers can prevent unplanned downtime and extend the life cycle of their equipment.

The hospitality sector is facing its own set of challenges, with an increased emphasis on safety regulations and cost control. In this environment, building management systems become a key tool in the management of space utilisation and air flow and quality.

Smart management of a changed workplace

As employees all around the world begin to return to the office, at least in some capacity, organisations are preparing for a transformed workplace. Consolidation of multiple office locations, supporting hybrid work schedules, utilising office space effectively and complying with new health and safety regulations, are all emerging challenges.

Smart building management systems mean organisations can manage their changed work environment: dynamic ventilation adapts to occupancy levels to ensure that air flow and quality is always optimal even as workers come and go. And as employees return to an office environment, organisations will also be tasked with maintaining the productivity gains some of these workers experienced in their home environment: air, light and comfort will all be high on the priority list for employees and smart building management tools provide an opportunity to meet these new demands.

This enhanced oversight and management goes beyond the office to encompass the entire building. Smart sensors at entry will enhance access control systems and maximise capacity with real-time data and screens guiding drivers to free spaces. Smart lobbies will streamline visitor management and intelligent elevators will segregate traffic based on destination, which in turn will minimise wasted trips.

Wrapped around all of these top line benefits is the growing urgency for organisations to enhance their environmental credentials. Sustainability has become the new battleground and for many organisations being environmentally conscious is a key differentiator. Armed with valuable insights and data gleaned from their smart building management systems organisations will be able to make informed decisions on energy usage and their impact on the environment.

Is a building management solution the right fit for my organisation?

  • Have your utility bills increased?
  • Do you want more insight into your energy usage?
  • Do you need to gain more visibility into your building's occupancy levels?
  • Do you want to reduce energy wastage?