The hidden benefits of smart buildings

Date: 07 November 2017 Author: David Webb

Smart buildings could save the UK economy an estimated £135 bn per year due to increases in productivity and reduced medical costs alone. And that’s not even taking into account the energy savings such intelligent technologies could bring.

A smart building provides a positive workplace experience for your staff. It means your employees can multitask, work that bit smarter, adopt flexible working opportunities and you can attract and retain the best talent.

To fully realise both the tangible and intangible benefits of smart buildings, your workspace strategy needs to promote collaboration. You also need to provide your modern workforce with intelligent workspaces that automatically adapt to their varying needs over the course of the workday.

There are many different ways to achieve this by converging tools such as smart lighting, smart sensors, building automation, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology into one IP platform, such as Cisco’s Digital Building Solution.



How can you create a smart building?

To boost your employee engagement levels, you may want to start by focusing on the environment. Research reveals that employees in eco-friendly smart buildings are 16% more productive than traditional offices. That’s because the rooms and resources are used as effectively as possible to streamline the working day for your staff.

How can you put this into action?

Smart lighting is a simple yet effective solution where an integrated energy management system can vary light levels depending on the season, or, turn your lighting on and off at specific times of the day. For example, a simple sensor could detect the amount of daylight in a room and change the light level accordingly - or you could turn the lights off automatically if an additional motion sensor detects the room is empty.

Consider this…..most people experience the post-lunch slump – So what if you could help to energise staff using lighting and the technology behind this? You could vastly improve concentration, energy and as a consequence, productivity.

You may also want to use automation where your systems collect and respond to data provided during continuous monitoring. This will allow you to optimise your IT infrastructure and devices without manual interaction from your staff.

Automation is particularly useful to manage your heating and ventilation systems and, depending on the size of your office, you could make annual savings of between 10% and 25% on your power bills.

And, with 80% of office workers complaining about the temperature, you could improve your retention rates by providing a more comfortable environment for your staff. What’s more, poor temperature control can significantly affect the health of the workforce and germs spread easily within this type of environment and so, again, absenteeism levels could rise.

You could take things one step further and introduce smart windows that lighten or darken depending on sunlight intensity. This will help reduce both your HVAC output and your lighting loads, as well as reduce glare.

Finally, by monitoring different areas of your office space you can make sure every square inch of floor space is used to its full potential. If, for example, a particular meeting room is rarely used - could it be refitted to serve a different purpose?

A smart building is a highly optimised space. To truly unlock the power of a smart building, you need to bring together your IT infrastructure and its disparate systems using a holistic digital building solution to connect your workforce with their working environment.

This demands a new approach not just to your building, but your entire digitisation strategy. You can find out more about smart buildings and the wider impact of digitisation by downloading our exclusive online content here.