Adopting environmentally sound smart building capabilities could save many SMEs a small fortune on their energy bills, says Prasanna Kulkarni.
05 February 2018 | Prasanna Kulkarni
According to research from Npower, 53 per cent of SMEs in the UK aren't taking any steps to monitor their energy efficiency and, consequently, are likely to be spending more than they need to on energy costs. The other 47 per cent are likely to be focusing on smart buildings and factories.
Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of smart buildings. Businesses around the world are realising the potential for smart buildings not only to reduce their impact on the environment, but also the considerable savings that can be achieved through their use.
Inside any building that already has an integrated access control and security system, there is the option for integrating the ventilation, water and energy use of the building. Companies are more likely to consider smart buildings when they fully understand the benefits of anintegrated smart building. Here is a cost-efficiency guide to adopting smart buildings.
Establishing cost efficiency
It is crucial with smart buildings, as with any new product or service, to start with the potential return on investment for the end users. This goal can be achieved by presenting a thorough and accurate cost analysis report that compares what the end users or company are currently using and spending against what they could be using and spending if they upgraded to a smart building.
It is advisable to look at just about everything, whether it is the lighting currently in use, the irrigation, chillers and even air handlers. It is vital to map the real savings that could be achieved by updating chillers and compressors and even switching to LED lighting.
The following data points may help you to make a case for a smart building.
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average commercial building uses only 70 per cent of its energy; 30 per cent is wasted.1 Considering that in the UK, industrial and commercial facilities account for annual energy expenses of £10.8 billion, that means £3.24 billion is wasted annually.
The Carbon Trust estimated that lighting expenses could be reduced by at least 65-85 per cent by upgrading to LED lighting technology.3
A study by the World Green Building Council found that 62 per cent of employees reported that it can take as much as 25 per cent longer for them to complete tasks if they are too hot, while a staggering 81 per cent said they find it hard to concentrate when the temperature is higher.
Investment driven by smart building
Returns won from investing in a smarter building can be invested to derive more value from the smart buildings. Energy savings can be invested into virtual monitoring and management of buildings. Another area of investment may be IoT-enabled devices that can reduce manual efforts to maintain smart buildings.
Incremental approach to smarter buildings
Typically, a six-to-24-month approach is suitable when you are looking to convert an existing building to a smart building.
This piecemeal approach also allows occupants to transition into a new ambience in tranches.
For example, you could only convert a part of your building into a smart building or implement an energy-efficient system for the first six months to collect data and actual ROI.
Once the system and data match your expectations you can gradually change other parts of your building over a 24-month period.
But integrators should keep in mind that because smarter buildings are becoming more commonplace and demand is increasing, the industry boundaries are becoming more blurred. This can make it far harder for the end user to separate the opportunists from the knowledgeable experts of the industry.