Leveraging Smart Environments for Organizational and Community Improvements
Businesses have transformed their building operations over the pandemic to optimize health and safety practices and streamline day-to-day functionalities. However, the question stands; where do we go from here? Business operations and office spaces are evolving alongside our needs, and smart environments are evolving the next step in building infrastructure.
Smart environments integrate connectivity, data analytics and automation to deliver efficient processes and improved management of facilities. Health, safety, and business operations can all benefit from smart environments while improving sustainability in the future. But what exactly do these futuristic smart environments offer, and how can you prepare your business for their integration?
As North America’s leader in Archibus integration and IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System) technologies, Horizant can help answer these questions.
IWMS, Archibus, & Smart Environments
Archibus and other IWMS technologies lend themselves seamlessly to the rise of smart environments and lay the groundwork for the effectiveness of these environments. These systems are designed to be an all-in-one platform that allows for data collection across facilities and integrated systems, including but not limited to space management, lease and portfolio management, ticket submission or incident reports by employees, and management of HVAC, security, and thermostat systems throughout the building.
Smart environments require connectivity and ease of access to effectively provide the many benefits and improvements that a business may be looking for. IWMS technologies also enable connectivity while offering an easy-to-use platform to access various functionalities within the environment. Management of HVAC, security, and lighting or temperature control systems, as well as updates regarding maintenance requirements, ensures data collection grants managers can seamlessly monitor all aspects of their buildings from one place.
Smart Environments at Work
The workplace and the employee experience are two areas moving forward following the COVID-19 pandemic that has the potential to be significantly impacted by smart environments integrated into business operations. With the rise of office hoteling and a significant percentage of remote workers electing to only return for certain days, IWMS can be an impactful tool in transforming the workplace experience.
Smart environments in the workplace will have vast connectivity, allowing everyone from employees to facilities managers to make use of its functionalities. This connectivity further allows the various smart systems to integrate seamlessly into an IWMS.
Employees can expect improvements such as booking desks and board rooms for meetings and checking for availability of certain resources such as printers or office technology. Similarly, facilities managers can track and view the data collected from the system to make necessary changes or investments in certain areas that may require additional resources.
Sustainability & Smart Environments
One of the major benefits of smart environments is the environmental capabilities and key role in the improvement of emissions rates. Buildings are responsible for a sizeable portion of emissions, and IWMS can assist organizations in assuring their business practices are carbon-friendly and environmentally sustainable. This is done through monitoring energy, heat, light, and water systems and ensuring that these services are delivered in an environmentally conscious manner through sensors and data collection monitored by facilities managers.
Over time, this will help businesses stay on track with emissions and environmental goals while keeping maintenance low and practices sustainable.
Facilities Management & Sustainability
Sustainability goes beyond environmental goals, as facilities management gives facilities managers data on the upkeep and maintenance of systems around the building. Real-time information and updates on the status of areas and facilities mean that there will be lower costs for significant maintenance or replacing parts if they are attended to early on.
Facilities management and sustainability will be beneficial in older buildings, as upgrades across multiple areas will be required to truly outfit these facilities with smart technology to extend their lifespan and functionality. This, in turn, will decrease operating costs of the building and optimize business development.
Smart Environments & Health
Green buildings are a staple in conversation regarding smart environments, as smart environments lend themselves to green practices and environmentally sustainable processes. Green buildings possess attributes such as ideal lighting, efficient ventilation, development and use of green spaces, and optimal temperature control. These all contribute to forming a healthy workplace with less humidity, better airflow, and proper lighting, which are all factors that decide whether an office is optimized not just for productivity but for employee health as well.
Facilities Management & Green buildings
A core factor in an organization’s long-term sustainability and environmental impact is its facilities management. Facilities management refers to the tracking and maintenance of systems throughout a building, like HVAC or heating systems.
Effective facilities management will improve sustainability as it will ensure that systems related to emissions and energy consumption are operating at a rate that is in line with the company’s long-term environmental goals. This also means that long-term sustainability and environmental targets will be met without sacrificing extra costs or maintenance. Integrating IWMS into smart buildings gives facilities managers access to data allowing this.
Benefits of smart environments
Reduced operational costs & energy consumption
The bottom line for improving business operations is usually measured by increasing efficiency, lowering costs, or both – the implementation of smart environments will drive improvement in both areas. Smart buildings data collection will allow for energy consumption analytics on use and overuse, allowing facilities managers to regulate energy use and adjust systems accordingly, as well as optimize energy output for lower cost.
The use of carbon-friendly materials in support of smart building technologies work to bring down business’ carbon footprints and build long-term environmental sustainability.
Quantifiable building insights
The benefits of data collection and monitoring of facilities in smart environments have been mentioned throughout this article but would not be possible without the ability to produce quantifiable building insights.
These crucial building insights and data collection allow for facilities and systems within the building to be monitored in a way that was not previously possible. Rather than checking a valve or a meter on a box, the facilities manager now has digital access to a system’s outputs, inputs, and potential stressors. Furthermore, access to information like how many guests have scanned into the building, elevator usage, and even lighting use can be measured and adjusted.
Quantifying these building operations means that organizations have the capabilities to optimize their work environments, as well as analyze almost every aspect of activity inside the building and judge future investments or costs.
Better Resource Utilization
Optimal resource utilization in smart environments will be the end goal of previously mentioned capabilities. For example, if it is a hot day, a manager can utilize smart building systems to dim the lights and divert power into ventilation, resulting in better energy utilization.
Real-time and long-term data collection allows for improved utilization of resources such as technology, desks, and telecommunications hardware that, when analyzed, can result in improved business operations as investments or adjustments to processes or capital can be made – a significant advantage for return to office initiatives.
Finally, the automation opportunities that can arise from the implementation of smart environments are seemingly endless over the long term. With further data collection and analysis of trends in a building, the automation of processes such as heating, lighting, doors, and ventilation is only the tip of the iceberg. Automation of a system to regulate itself if it goes above a certain temperature or below could be massively beneficial.
Smart cities begin with smart environments and smart buildings, and the opportunities these present to overall sustainability in both an environmental and business context are undeniable. Proper and effective integration of an IWMS such as Archibus can lay the groundwork for achieving a smart building. Horizant is the leader in Archibus integration and IWMS technology consulting in North America and can support businesses in their efforts to build smart environments.
As more organizations transition to smart buildings, long-term sustainability and climate goals can be met, and in turn, emissions are lowered. Smart cities not only improve sustainable business practices but also improve emissions rates and environmental impact, which, when spread across cities, will make a lasting impact on our communities.