November 29, 2022
Why it Makes Financial Sense to Invest in Smart Building Technology NOW
Soaring energy prices make space optimization and smarter energy use a no-brainer. In the recent months, the price of energy has gone through the roof.
This has caused great concern among companies in Europe and further afield. In some cases, the cost of running a business has increased so drastically that many struggle to stay afloat.
In times of financial hardship, investing in new technology may not seem like a wise move. On the contrary, wouldn’t it make more sense to cut costs wherever possible? To lay off a significant chunk of your workforce and move to smaller premises?
Not necessarily. At least not when it’s an investment in technology that helps you save costs right from the start. Technology that makes a positive difference, not only financially, but also when it comes to your people, their wellbeing, and their productivity. And – bonus! – technology that contributes to a healthier planet.
This blog will explain how making your building smarter will help you save costs while making a change for the better.
Wasting space and energy = wasting money
A staggering 27% of the world’s energy is consumed in buildings. Traditional office buildings in particular are known to consume vast amounts of energy. And what’s more: they do so quite inefficiently. In fact, 90% of commercial buildings are “unintelligent”, resulting in a waste of precious and expensive energy, the inefficient utilization of space, and other issues such as cleaning office areas that are not in use.
“About 40% of workspaces are underutilized”
The inefficiencies have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, as most of the working population has not gone back to the office full-time, choosing to work from home instead. Did you know that – on average – about 40% of workspaces are underutilized?
Based on widely available data on this topic, as well as feedback from stakeholders, it is becoming abundantly clear that a return to pre-COVID occupancy levels is unrealistic. The result is that many businesses have too much space in their offices. Redundant space that nonetheless continues to use significant amounts of energy for lighting and HVAC.
To make matters worse, office energy consumption is going up year-on-year as extreme temperatures are becoming increasingly common, at least partly due to climate change.
This, combined with the surging energy prices as well as increasing government regulation on the excessive use of energy (e.g. EPC), makes it even more urgent to look into ways of making smarter use of office space and getting a grip on energy consumption.
Be smart, not impulsive
When things get tough, it’s human nature to react impulsively. To make drastic changes without truly considering the implications of our decisions. Laying off staff will of course save on labor costs, but how will it affect productivity? Reducing building space on a whim will reduce the immediate overhead costs, but what happens when the business grows? Lowering the office temperature by a few degrees will save energy, but how will it affect your employees?
Of course it’s important to curb operational costs, but be sure to make decisions based on facts. That’s the only way to ensure both short-term savings and long-term benefits.
“Data is the new oil”
Smart occupancy sensors will help you do exactly that. They are fundamental in telling you how your building is being used, as they provide live – fully anonymized – data that will allow you to make faster, more informed decisions. How? By giving you the exact number of people in a space, as well as their location down to the desk level, so you’ll know how each area is being used.
As they say, “data is the new oil”. Turning your building into a smart space, providing you with this type of valuable data and insights, will help you make informed decisions based on facts.
Driving down operational costs
But that’s not all. By connecting the sensors to your lighting and HVAC systems, saving energy starts immediately. Not only by automatically switching off the lights in areas that are not in use, and by adjusting the temperature when no one’s around, but also by regulating heating, cooling and ventilation based on the number of people in a space.
By automating such building operation processes, driving down unnecessary energy consumption – hence operational costs – starts immediately.
Even just by looking at our own customer base, it is clear how much potential there is in reducing energy consumption. Calculations showed that in some spaces up to 78% of energy could be saved, simply by making adjustments to lighting and ventilation based on real-time occupancy.
“By automating property management processes, driving down energy consumption and operational costs starts immediately”
And what about cleaning rotas? All too often, every space in a building is cleaned daily, regardless of whether it was used or not. Wouldn’t it make more sense to adjust cleaning rotas depending on the actual usage of each individual space? A smart dashboard, retrieving data from occupancy sensors throughout the building, provides exactly that type of insight, further reducing the operational costs of running a building.
Comfort vs. Productivity
But what about the people aspect? The soaring energy prices have prompted many to take mitigating measures at home. They turn down the thermostat, take shorter showers, turn off the lights, and leave their car on the driveway. The upside? They save money and contribute to a greener future. The downside? These measures are bound to impact their level of comfort.
Changing comfort conditions – at home, but certainly also in the work environment – can influence people’s health and wellbeing. As a result, they potentially have a major impact on their productivity. Therefore, it’s always a risk to take drastic measures that affect an entire building or workspace. Changes in for example temperature or lighting can result in the discomfort of those who work there, which will make them less productive.
“Making smart adjustments based on real-time occupancy does not have a negative impact on people’s comfort levels. On the contrary!”
That’s where smart occupancy sensors make the difference, as they continually monitor each individual room or space, and make adjustments based on the number and location of people in that space. By focusing energy usage on areas that are actually used, they provide a significantly higher level of comfort – and thus productivity – for the occupants.
Change for good
Many businesses feel the urgency of reducing energy consumption, whether motivated by cost, regulations, sustainability, or all of these. However, even those that recognize the fact that smart occupancy sensors are a valuable contributor to this goal may be hesitant to invest in new technology, especially when their interest is cost-driven.
So let’s break it down and look at the immediate benefits and savings that are achievable for any business.
The first benefit you’ll gain from installing smart occupancy sensors is insight. Insight into how your building is being used. Insight into usage patterns throughout office floors, meeting rooms, open spaces, and at shared desks. It’s the only way to find out if the building and its current layout make sense for its occupants.
Through real-time and historical data, the advanced analytics platform displays workspace utilization trends and helps spot opportunities for optimization of any given workspace. This allows you to right-size your space, save money by reallocating underutilized spaces and avoid costly – and often unnecessary – expansions.
“Smart sensors provide immediate benefits and savings that are achievable for any business”
Smart AI-based sensors adjust the energy sources to the actual needs of the building. They not only know when a space is in use and when it’s not, but also how many people are in it and where exactly. All in real-time! It’s that type of granular control that can make the energy consumption much more efficient and tailored to the real needs.
The result of workspace optimization and automatic lighting and HVAC adjustments goes beyond cost savings. Perhaps the best benefit is that they allow you to be smart about your energy consumption AND provide optimal comfort levels for your employees. So you truly do get the best of both worlds!
The spiraling energy prices are making the need for space optimization and smarter energy use an urgent case for many businesses. Smart occupancy sensors can play a vital role in this. They provide actionable insights that not only help you save money, but also have the power to create a work environment that optimizes its occupants’ wellbeing and productivity.
According to research by Jones Lang LaSalle, investments in smart building technology typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and maintenance efficiencies. And that was about ten years ago, when energy prices were still relatively low compared to what they are now.
So it’s a win-win: a reduction of operational costs due to much more efficient use of space and energy, and increased comfort levels and productivity of the occupants.
“Investments in smart building technology typically pay for themselves within one or two years”
But of course, that’s not all. Smart buildings are also greener buildings, making them an essential part of the move to a more sustainable future. And while this won’t happen overnight, it is good to remember that the benefits – and savings – increase in tandem with the changes.
You could start by using data-driven insights to make more informed decisions. The next step could be to automate your HVAC system based on real-time occupancy. And who knows, maybe some time after that you’ll use the sensors to allow employees to check real-time availability of meeting rooms and desk space…
Our mission is to contribute to making buildings more sustainable through optimization, helping you to save money on energy consumption and space utilization in the process.
If you’d like to find out more, let us know! We’ll be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need.
Ubiqisense is an end-to-end solution of highly intelligent workspace occupancy sensors and a cloud-based analytics dashboard, providing you with real-time and historical insights. Truly actionable data thanks to a granularity and frequency that are unmatched by any other solution in the market today.
Because our sensors use the latest in AI and deep learning, they are continuously updated with the newest features, without any hassle or the need for human assistance.
Our sensors track usage patterns throughout office floors, meeting rooms, open spaces, and at shared desks. The anonymized data is then transmitted in real time to help understand how spaces are being used.
The Ubiqisense sensors can be integrated with any room booking system, building management system, workspace platform, and existing camera infrastructure.