Today’s buildings: smart, sustainable and safe | Macro

Today’s buildings: smart, sustainable and safe


By Richard Hayes, Managing Director, Macro - North America

The use of smart building technology can aid accurate analysis of a facility’s overall operating costs.  In our blog this week, Richard Hayes discusses how real-time data can help identify the lifecycle costs of employee space, enable building managers and owners to reduce operating expenses and in turn, attract and retain tenants. 

A core approach leverages integrated access protocols and technologies within an holistic, sustainable and secure building discipline. A typical Class A commercial real estate facility operates a full-time, staffed security model. Security verifies employee, tenant and subcontractor credentials and real time, dynamic tracking monitors the ‘ebb and flow’ of building occupancy through designated access points. 

Whereas generic data may confirm that the majority of traffic occurs at the start and end of the work day and at lunchtimes, it may not allow modeling of facility behaviour across say, annual seasons or holiday periods. Neither will it support detailed activity analysis of tenants occupying multiple floors with segregated operational disciplines like accounting, sales or executive offices. 

Smart tech can deliver such dynamic granular detail directly to facility control systems, allow adjustments to be made in real time and generate additional data to improve comfort levels or cut energy expenditure. Unlike a generic building census model it could identify say, an accountancy firm occupying specific floors for extended hours during tax season or an executive floor vacant during the annual off-site and appropriate heating strategies.  

A tightly integrated key access system can aid development of an empirical census model to feed a facility’s control system. Preferred methodologies capture occupant location and biometric (photo) identification and once captured the keycard is the ‘gatekeeper’ to an integrated turnstile and elevator call button.  Algorithms can be developed based upon occupancy and location to efficiently allocate elevators to accommodate peak building traffic flow. 

Over time, depending upon the specific building, models can be developed to track occupancy trends and intelligently adjust temperature.  Generic occupancy trends provide the baseline for the modeling algorithm, but unique empirical data allows progressive refinement and a dynamic response. Occupancy modeling can generate efficiency gains in utilities consumption, cafeteria services, waste disposal, janitorial and other ancillary services.  

The ability to monitor occupancy traffic can also benefit security. A tightly integrated approach to building access combined with video identification can help secure a workplace from external and internal threats.  Floor access can be limited by smart elevator/turnstile or access door technologies and threats further mitigated via a network of strategically placed cameras, which detect and identify known building occupants and external visitors and identify unauthorised access. 

Smart video technology then pro-actively alerts on-site or third party security personnel to take action in real time. A final benefit of real-time dynamic census data is that in an emergency, building occupants can be accounted for. When applied in conjunction with an effective Emergency Action Plan (EAP), it will help to confirm their safety. 

A version of this article originally appeared in Real Estate Weekly.

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