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As far as commercial buildings go, data is golden and holds the key to safer, healthier and better building performance. It gets more interesting if you consider the fact Internet of Things (IoT) is heralding a new age for commercial buildings. Thanks to IoT, inter- and intra- connection of commercial buildings plus the ability to gather real-time accurate data from factors in and around these buildings is no longer a Sci-Fi movie makers’ dream but a present reality.
Having access to actionable data is where IoT holds its own; and it is on this premise that building managers, administrators and owners, can use it to optimize data collection strategies.
However, to better understand the dynamics involved, it is important to isolate the principal points in this discussion. Here we present to you some of those points:
Understanding IoT and Data
Relevance of data in commercial real estate is rising- in fact its importance is threatening to overshadow location as the main market determinant.
Admittedly, data informs most, if not all decisions regarding the function and operation of a commercial building be it repairs, leasing, retrofitting, security etc. These are all directed from data driven insights. What this means is that the success of these activities will depend on the quality, accuracy, and usability of data that is collected.
But, unfortunately in most commercial buildings across the country today, a troubling situation exists. According to a real estate operations performance company, about 18-30% of maintenance budget ends up as waste; lifespan of vital equipment is reduced by 20-36% as a result of poor maintenance; and energy wastage is estimated to be 30%. All of these unfortunate realities are tied to poor data collection and dissemination.
Traditional methods of data collection have thus proven to be inadequate to optimize building performance. A good data collection strategy should be affordable, accurate, adaptable, granular, continuous, and timely. Sadly, this is not the case with most traditional methods of collecting data such as a physical inspection and walkthroughs.
Luckily, it is at this point that IoT holds lots of promise- gathering and communicating accurate, actionable, and real-time data in a seamless and continuous process especially at the granular level.
IoT (Internet of Things) is the technological concept that connects devices, physical objects, and buildings through the Internet. Here, sensors embedded in these connected items have the ability to collect real-time data and then communicate collected data via the network thus allowing for remote access, analysis and control.
6 ways to use IoT to optimize data collection
1. Energy utilization
Energy, especially electricity still amounts for a huge fraction of the cost of operating a commercial building. Unfortunately, large chunk of energy is lost as wastages. This has made the tracking of energy utilization data more important to prevent wastages and improve efficiency and its sustainability as a resource.
By using sensors attached to equipment, energy consumption can be measured at the basic level of individual equipment. Not only will you be able to monitor how efficient each equipment uses energy, you’ll also end up acquiring data that can be used to predict equipment breakdown and maintenance. Also, by using sensors embedded in equipments, you can obtain data that can pinpoint the exact problem should there be a breakdown. This helps with time and cost efficiency for repairs.
Because it is not uncommon for faults in electrical appliances to draw more power than necessary, having a system in place that can collect data and promptly alert engineers or decision makers is not only energy saving but will also prolong the lifespan of the equipment.
2. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
The constituent and characteristics of air in an enclosed environment determines its quality. Polluted indoor air can significantly affect the health, safety, and productivity of occupants of a commercial building that tend to accommodate workers for considerable period of time per day thus making it imperative to collect data that affect and relates to IAQ.
To gather such data are IAQ sensors. These sensors can be used to monitor and transmit real-time data such as the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), carbon dioxide, and ground-level ozone while particulate sensors should be used to monitor air particulates such as mold spores, dust, and other allergens.
Because some of this pollutants are colorless and odorless, occupants might find it difficult to detect thus having IAQ sensors that can provide regular data that can be used to monitor and track pollutants is imperative to ensure a safe building.
Also, related to IAQ, is the Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning (HVAC) system. Here again, sensors should be used to provide performance data that can be used by technicians to ensure HVAC systems function, as they should in keeping the indoor environment comfortable.
With increasing knowledge and demand for healthy environment, optimizing the IAQ in your building via data is one sure way to increase the value of your property and woo potential clients/tenants.
3. Indoor Temperature
Maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature is very important in commercial buildings. This is so because it has a direct impact on occupants who will typically complain if they don’t find the temperature conducive. Such situations will lead to distractions, loss of productivity, waste of time and in some cases damage your reputation or land you in trouble with the authorities (an example is New York’s Law 86). So here is what you should do- combine HVAC system performance data and temperature sensors to monitor, control and automate the temperature levels within the buildings based on the occupancy.
Commercial buildings are public properties that tend to have an aggregation of a significant number of people and valuables, which has made them a target for malicious attacks.
To ensure the safety of occupants and properties, the use of IoT enabled sensors and beacons to provide real-time information on individuals and things at both the point of entry and exit, plus within the building is valuable. Data such as location of assets, smart identification/ tracking of people, and monitoring of security guards are examples of the perks IoT brings to the table.
Water, electricity, gas and steam (in some cases) can be monitored and tracked using IoT. Here data relating to supply, usage and bills are monitored, recorded, transmitted, and analyzed to give decision makers accurate insights as to the availability and utilization of these items.
Using IoT, you no longer have to wait to the end of the month or remain at the mercies of the utility providers to provide you with facts relating to consumption. Use digital meters to monitor and track how these items are used in relation to the billing period.
Additionally, sensors should also be used to monitor performance and efficiency of equipment supplying or utilizing any of the items listed. For example, sensors can be placed on steam traps to monitor in real time the release of steam in a bid to ensure safety and efficiency.
Another aspect where sensors should be applied is in the area of providing data relating to reservoir levels. Here, sensors will provide real-time information regarding volume; that way, building managers can plan ahead and avoid an embarrassing situation caused by an empty tank of supply.
One of the biggest advantage of using IoT to collect data is its ability to use sensors and smart technology to provide as-it-happens alerts to decision makers. The importance of prompt notification will allow for quick intervention to correct any existing deviation. In addition, the ability of IoT technology to analyze and translate data obtained to understandable and actionable information is something you cannot afford to ignore.
In conclusion, collecting data with IoT is affordable, efficient and fast. Thanks to sensors, meters and other technologies, a wide variety of data can be obtained, analyzed and acted upon in real-time which will guide you in your decision-making process and ultimately position the commercial building as a safe and healthy environment for all.