Your Building Can Talk, Are You Listening?

How well do you really know what’s happening inside your building?

If you work in facilities management, you’ve probably heard the buzz about smart buildings. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), remote monitoring systems are becoming a reality, and that’s great news for site management teams.

You can’t be everywhere at once, so remote monitoring is especially important if you manage multiple buildings. Existing building management systems have gaps in their equipment monitoring capabilities, providing only periodic checks and reactive fixes. Often, these legacy systems don’t present data in ways that non-engineers can understand and put to use. This can be problematic in buildings where you have little or no control over the activities of multiple tenants.

4D Monitoring & Disruptive Technologies Remote Monitoring Solution  

Disruptive Technologies’ partner 4D Monitoring recognized that building facilities managers commonly face the problem of a lack of tangible or intuitive data from their properties, which in turn leads to limited understanding of how well these properties are running or performing. “We wanted to build a remote monitoring solution that is intuitive and accessible to every property owner and facilities team and not just for trophy sites that have high service charges,” explains Barry Jones, Operations Director at 4D Monitoring.

In the innovative system built by 4D Monitoring, Disruptive’s wireless mini-sensors are placed throughout a building, where they extract information and feed it to 4D Monitoring’s cloud platform. 4D Monitoring layers information onto a map of a building’s floor plan to provide facilities managers visibility they need across all offices.

“Disruptive has led to a massive improvement in how quickly we can map the occupied space without interrupting people so we can start gathering meaningful data right away,” says Barry. “We had used other sensors before, but Disruptive gave us the best solution for quick and easy deployment with no requirement for costly and complex networking infrastructure.”

The remote monitoring solution from 4D Monitoring and Disruptive gives managing agents of properties information they need to make decisions and improve conditions. They are empowered to answer questions such as:

  • Is HVAC equipment running as efficiently as it could be?
  • Are office temperatures meeting tenant expectations?
  • Are doors left open and lights left on?
  • Which meeting rooms are being used most often?
  • Which public areas and bathrooms get the most traffic?
  • How much desk space if left unoccupied?

The answers to these questions help site managers make adjustments that decrease costs. When facilities management costs decrease, tenants benefit as building owners can reduce service costs and invest resources back into the building, including new smart building projects.

Sensors in action for UK’s Lambert Smith Hampton

4D Monitoring began installing Disruptive sensors in 2018 in a handful of buildings for Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), a leading commercial real estate property management company in the United Kingdom.

“Sensors provide information about what is actually happening, not what is perceived to be happening,” explains Matt Livesey, LSH Property Director. “One of the beauties of this technology is that we still don’t know yet all of things we can learn,” says Matt. “As more and more sensors become available, there will be more and more opportunities to deploy them.”

For clients like LSH, Disruptive sensors and 4D Monitoring’s remote monitoring platform provides a central view across a portfolio of real estate properties. Two areas in particular represent the greatest opportunities for building owners and facilities teams.

Within a central plant, 4D Monitoring’s solution helps property teams manage the asset lifecycle so they know when equipment, such as HVAC systems, is running correctly and when it’s not. Alerts let stakeholders know when adjustments need to be made so they can target a specific area and save time.

Optimizing a property’s central plant is typically the first step, and a quick win

In many buildings, central systems run 24×7, even when people only occupy the building for half that time at most. By monitoring and optimizing equipment such as air handling units and HVACs, 4D Monitoring improves energy efficiency and lowers utility cost.

In 4D Monitoring’s experience, optimizing the central plant typically leads to a 15%+ energy saving from the point of installation.

Reducing energy use

Recently within an LSH-managed property in central London, 4D Monitoring introduced temperature sensors to monitor secondary air conditioning systems in the tenant demise. These secondary systems weren’t monitored by the central building management system, which meant analyzing data from the central plant wouldn’t highlight whether they were operating outside of occupancy hours. The data demonstrated that unoccupied floors of the building were being heated 24/7, causing significant energy wastage. Resolving this problem reduced electric utility costs by 9%.

Decreasing hot/cold calls

Facilities managers of multi-let commercial buildings must manage frequent requests to adjust office temperature. Desk staff can be bombarded with conflicting information from multiple tenants across a building, without any data to support decisions. For example, a tenant may continue to report problems with temperature conditions even after a facilities team has already made adjustments or secondary air conditioning has been turned on. In an effort to please customers, staff may manually override systems designed for energy efficiency. If they neglect to reset them or log changes, it’s difficult for building managers to pinpoint why energy goals aren’t met. Temperature data from smart building sensors helps resolve these disputes and keep systems running as they should.

Focusing smart cleaning on high-traffic areas

In the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become alarmingly important to allocate appropriate cleaning resources to areas that need attention. Smart cleaning helps locate busy areas to ensure proper hygiene, making tenants feel safe and healthy. Focusing on high-traffic areas in a smart building also connects directly to a company’s bottom line. Barry Jones explains, “If we find that certain bathrooms are being used more than others, we can reallocate resources to improve conditions and save money,” he says. “If you’re managing resources across 50 buildings and cleaning multiple times each day, those savings add up.”

Helping property owners compete in a tight market

The commercial real estate market is expected to stay extremely competitive, despite the pandemic. It will become increasingly important for investors and property managers to use smart building technology to create a COVID-proof environment to attract and retain tenants. The 4D Monitoring/Disruptive remote monitoring solution provides an opportunity to differentiate the value and experience of your properties.

We’d love to talk with you about how property owners, managing agents and site management teams can use remote monitoring get the data they need to make decisions. We’re here to help make your smart building project a reality.

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