Smart Buildings: A Rational Investment with Proven Returns
Submitted By P. Barry
Technology affords efficiency by optimal resource allocation. Through integrated data collection, analysis, and informed regulation, modern industries have been able to pin-point and eliminate sources of waste in their respective processes. Now, this same approach is being taken to the functional systems of a building. The result: the ‘smart building,’ an investment in efficiency that pays dividends.
Automated buildings, or ‘smart buildings,’ are structures with integrated HVAC, lighting, security, and other electronically operated systems. The various systems of the structure are networked together with a user interface that collects data in real time which can then be analyzed for trends and acted upon. The data may tell the technician that the HVAC, for instance, is heating empty halls for 12 hours every day. A quick couple of clicks later, and what once was a heating bill is now a greater profit margin. This represents only one benefit of many.
Other Advantages to ‘Smart Buildings’ are:
- Real-time System Diagnostics / Warnings for impending or active system failures
- Laboratory and Industrial Application
- Ability to be Retrofitted
- Able to Assess Problems Beyond/ Without Human Intercession
Implementing such a system, whether it be retroactively or constructed in tandem with the building, poses an initial investment above and beyond base costs of course. This sometimes deters property owners that fail to see the long term payoff; sometimes misconstruing a smart building, a structure that emphasizes efficiency, with a green building, a structure that emphasizes ecological friendliness. While there is overlap between the two, make no mistake; this marginal investment sees returns. Proctor and Gamble saw an average savings of nearly 10% on utility costs in their first 11 months, and a return on investment in only 3 months. 1
The bottom line is: technological innovation, and the efficiency synonymous with it, makes ‘smart buildings’ smart for the bottom line.