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22 March 2019
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Businesses are eager to adopt technology © Shutterstock

28 June 2018 | Bradford Keen 

Technology for smart buildings is ready for adoption; only human barriers are blocking the way.


This was just one of the shared insights delivered during the panel discussion at Honeywell’s Technology Day hosted at Wembley Stadium yesterday, while grounds maintenance crews tended to the pitch down below.


“Get rid of the excuses, find solutions and get on with it,” said Martin L Frohock, head of facility management at Arm, who had earlier acknowledged that the FM sector is currently unprepared for IoT adoption.



However, a change in procurement strategies can help fix this. A “big supporter of ISO 44001”, Frohock said the collaborative approach to procurement, whether it’s for IoT-connectivity or new commodity goods and utilities, the standard’s specifications should be followed.


“They're basic and simple – all the best things are,” he said.


In addition to improved procurement, Frohock argued for greater investment in BIM that can “digitise a model and draw and make real the asset information… is one of those key steps that you need”.


“The more buildings built in a 3D world, in a language that everyone can access, the easier it becomes to add assets in, draw information out and to compress and take KOBI drops on assets and link it through APIs and BMSes, and other tools spoken about today, but having a good model in the first instance to hook things to is a damn good place to start,” added Frohock.


Dan Ritch, CIO and president connected services at Honeywell, said the “climate has changed” on industry readiness, with businesses eager to adopt technology and interested in how it can improve operations.


The key is a strategy of open procurement, protocol and development, in which technology companies provide systems that are interchangeable. Creating ecosystems and partnerships allows this to happen.


For Adam Armer, head of business development – digital buildings at Vodafone IoT, providers of technological services and products need to educate customers. It’s not about delivering “technology for the sake of it” but helping clients to understand their business needs and how tech solutions can achieve their outcomes.  


WELL Building

Moderator Paul Mason, digital services leader Europe at Honeywell, noted that the Lawrence Berkeley lab in the US reported that, on average, we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors.


In the UK, the economy loses £14.1 billion as a result of 30.4 million Mondays lost to sickness related to the buildings we work and live in.


“Are we doing enough?” asked Mason in terms of incorporating the WELL Building standard.


Two of the problems with the standard, Frohock explained, were its 241 pages of guidance (hard for a busy building manager to get through) and that an assessor needs to be flown from the US and operates on a one-strike principle. If the assessor is not happy with one aspect of the building, the standard is withheld.


However, if these are addressed, the standard can add value particularly to new-builds.


Frohock told the audience of roughly 80–100 people that Arm will be using the WELL Building standard on its new project, but for its old buildings it will retrospectively apply the Fitwel standard.


At only 20 pages and an online application costing $500, Fitwel “gives you an assessment and it recognises all the same factors; it's quick, intuitive, user-centric at its core and has been adopted a lot quicker”, said Frohock.


Proving ROI

This is all very encouraging, Mason said, but he asked how we could bring this conversation back to ROI. He provided a few statistics such as a Towns Watson study that found 50 buildings that had been improved by smart technology and the IoT brought end-users an average profit increase of 19 per cent and earnings per share boost of 28 per cent.


Mason also told of the Canadian building council showing that real estate loans benefit from connected buildings that improve the experience of occupants.


Real estate companies that owned the buildings saw a 38 per cent improvement in asset value, 46 per cent in time to fill with tenants and 28 per cent in premium pricing per square metre, as well as an 8-12 per cent boost in occupants’ productivity.


The problem for the UK, however, is that it generally rebuilds buildings with a focus on the lowest construction cost.


“No one gives a hoot about anything else and the economic value that is created for everyone else in the chain,” said Mason.


How do we “leverage IoT storytelling” to show the lowest in store price is not the best way to create long-term ROI? Mason asked.


David Williams, business architect at Microsoft Digital, said the journey map for visitors, occupants, tenants and owners should be plotted.


Tasks and activities can be linked back to a specific technical solution that can deliver a particular capability and be measured in terms of benefits to the business. This could be “hard cash, monetisation opportunities or time saved, and the customer can take that information and use it”.


Frohock relies on three factors to sell the smart building initiative:


• Use cases that explain why it is important and what it can achieve.

• Experience modelling, which puts the plan in “the words of a punter or user of a building” and helps everyone in the business to share the vision and buy into the use case.

• ROI, which depending on the project can be very simple, such as a smart parking solution that can be measured in terms of user time saved pre and post-installation.