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Continuous monitoring in commercial buildings is a term used to describe the process of tracking building performance parameters of interest continuously and in real time with the intention of alerting decision makers/ building managers or operators of faults or inefficiencies within the building systems. This includes tracking the performance and energy efficiency of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring etc.
You’ll agree that operational efficiently run commercial properties are the way to go especially in this period of strict business regulation, increasing operational risk, and decreasing profit margins. With that backdrop, continuous monitoring is one surefire way that facilities managers, building owners and operators can make building operation and processes faster, less risky, and cheaper. These compelling benefits underscore the value of continuous monitoring to the property owner or manager.
Continuous Monitoring in Commercial buildings: What can be monitored?
Most continuous monitoring programs can be designed to track and measure basically any and every parameter in a commercial building.
With abounding and increasingly cheaper smart technology and smart sensors in the market today, the following can be monitored: temperature, humidity, pressure, presence of gaseous pollutants (such as CO, CO2, volatile organic compounds (VOC)), consumption of electricity, occupancy levels, tenant movement etc.
Other parameters that can be tracked in a modern commercial facility include: materials that affect the structural integrity of the building such as wood that are sensitive to environmental factors, HVAC systems, occupants behavior, utilities, energy, lighting, equipment and appliances.
Due to advances in technology especially in the light of Internet of Things (IoT), sensors can be embedded directly into the building structure and its systems to glean data, which allows for continuous monitoring of the building, its systems and indoor environment as well as occupant activities.
Continuous Monitoring: Why is it important?
Compromised and inefficient building structures, systems, equipment or operations can negatively impact building maintenance. The result can include reduction in productivity, damage to your brand’s reputation, increased energy bills, costly equipment repairs or replacements, among others.
Inefficiency can result from a number of factors from misuse to aging. Other considerations include servicing neglect, power surges, dirt accumulation, occupant’s behavior etc. These factors are the most common causes of concern in any commercial facility and they can occur at any given point in time.
This has given rise to the need for a system that is proactive, timely, and efficient that can continuously monitor a building’s systems, operations and performance round the clock. And that is what continuous monitoring is about- by incorporating a myriad of smart technologies like sensors, meters, monitors etc. and computerized software programs, continuous monitoring has the ability to capture, communicate and interpret building related data with the aim of improving the performance of buildings.
The knowledge of building parameters acquired from gleaned data- their performance, levels, and energy efficiency as the case may be is essential for accurate decision making.
An additional point to note is that energy efficiency has been more important now than ever due to increasing population, climate change, depleting natural resources, and urbanization. Since commercial buildings account for a huge percentage of energy consumed, it is only imperative that measures targeted at saving energy such as continuous monitoring of energy utilization be taken seriously.
Continuous monitoring program is a step in the right direction of smarter commercial buildings. Because we spend a lot of time indoor especially for users of commercial facilities, the indoor environment can affect your health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. Therefore to achieve the condition you desire- saving energy, improving profit, and keeping the occupants comfortable and healthy; building performance data needs to be timely, consistent and reliable as provided by continuous monitoring.
Below we take a look at why the future of buildings depends on continuous monitoring:
Benefits of Continuous Monitoring:
There are more reasons than one why you should consider continuous monitoring going forward. Like most savvy building managers know for sure, continuously keeping an eye on a building’s performance and operations will reduce operational and compliance risk. Bottom line, continuous monitoring equals less unpleasant surprises.
Here are some advantages of continuous monitoring:
1.Reduce risk through efficiency
Continuous monitoring alerts building operators to problems early on when the situation can be easily managed quickly at a fraction of the cost before the conditions deteriorate to levels where intervention becomes more expensive and disruptive. Not only is early detection of problems cheaper, it also helps to prolong the lifespan of building equipment thus ensuring you are getting maximum value for your investment. Additionally, equipment downtime is avoided or minimized, productivity doesn’t suffer and occupants remain satisfied. Imagine the success of tenant satisfaction when you are able to get to a problem even before they complain! Continuous monitoring no doubt helps to reduce the overall risk across your facilities.
2. Reliable data, better analytics, and accurate information equals better decisions
With continuous monitoring data is captured continuously over time across various systems and equipment. This provides a portfolio level view of data to check for consistency to test for reliability. This also gives interested parties a solid ground to establish a baseline for the building performance that can thus be used for evaluation purposes subsequently and to deduce performance trends.
Having abundance of data to work with provides a clear picture of what is actually going on and this will in turn allow for better analytics, which will yield accurate, or near accurate information that can be acted upon by those in charge. The outcome is a situation where those in charge are able to get their decisions right based of provable data rather than on a hunch or guess work. For example, tracking occupancy levels across various facilities can help you determine a plan of action for peak occupancy levels.
3. Predictive maintenance
One of the biggest benefits of continuously monitoring your commercial building is the ability to deduce the perfect time to carryout maintenance activities. Data obtained will give you a picture of the happenings at the macro level thus allowing you to plan ahead and avoid unexpected breakdown and interruptions that will hamper business activities. For facility operators this would mean that they can easily track the asset risks and maybe swap or sell the assets before they completely break down.
4. Building compliance
In an age where regulations are becoming stringent, you can tap into the power of continuous monitoring to provide the basis from which you can launch your drive to meet all regulatory obligations.
Whether it is proving compliance or pursuing certification, you can use continuous monitoring to detect shortcomings if present then use it to guide improvements in building performance and efficiency.
For example, monitoring power has been shown to lead to lowered operational cost and preservation of a good reputation and relationship with tenants and regulators that in turn lead to better business.
5. Performance validation
In today’s business climate where competition is stiff, you will do well with monitoring data, which allows for self-auditing and performance validation, which can be used to edge your competitors.
For example, due to increasing awareness, tenants are becoming particular about IAQ. As such having steady IAQ monitoring data to validate how well your building is performing in this regard will help sway clients in favor of your property.
6. Increased health and safety
A commercial facility is usually a beehive of activities involving lots of people. And with that comes health and safety concerns. As a building owner or manager you have a role and responsibility to ensure the health and safety of occupants of your building. Failure to do so has serious consequences, which include legal, environmental, and health. Continuous monitoring will help you keep your finger on the pulse of various activities and systems in your building that helps avoid any risks to health and safety of occupants.
7. Better management of resources
The continuous capture of all data as it affects your building will enable you to track resources as they are been utilized. Utilities such as water and gas levels can always be tracked continuously. Sensors will alert operators when the levels become critical thus allowing for proactive actions in a bid to ensure your building is never out of critical assets and utilities.
In conclusion, continuous monitoring allows building managers and facility operators to keep a watch on essential and vital parameters and operations in a complex environment like a commercial building by constantly collecting reliable, real-time data on the go. The data thus obtained is analyzed and interpreted into actionable information that decision makers like you can use. The ability to have reliable information at your fingertips makes all the difference and gives you a competitive advantage to stand out in the marketplace. If you don’t want to be left behind in securing the future of your buildings, you should get ready by adopting a continuous monitoring program today.