9 July 2020

Making buildings more efficient and sustainable with IoT

Buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions, with energy used to power buildings accounting for 28%. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have noted that reducing energy waste is critical to meeting the UK’s net-zero emissions target for 2050. Furthermore, a Green Alliance report has shown that UK companies are wasting £60 million in avoidable energy bills. It is hard to see why dealing with this problem isn’t yet a priority, both for companies in terms of cost savings, and for the government in terms of reaching its carbon targets. 

Implementing a smart building platform can help to make buildings more intelligent and responsive, ultimately improving their performance. IoT technologies can monitor performance, detect inefficiencies, make automatic adjustments, and facilitate better decision making. By digitising your space, it can become more efficient and more sustainable. 

 

 

Smart sensors

Understanding occupancy levels through the use of IoT sensors in your space is key to improving efficiency. Having access to real-time data can enable you to understand and optimise how your building is being used. Occupancy data can be used to inform energy usage, ensuring that energy is not used unnecessarily when areas are unoccupied. 

By implementing environmental sensors, heat maps can provide a real-time snapchat of your current environment, so that you can easily identify areas that are outside of the optimal range.This not only improves your building’s efficiency, but also optimises occupant health and wellbeing. Smart alerts can notify you when environmental parameters deviate from their optimal zone, and remedial action then be triggered via your BMS. This ensures that any issues with wasted energy can be resolved quickly and efficiently, reducing CO2 emissions.

Intel’s building in Israel, known as PTK1, is fitted with 14,000 sensors that generate up to 100 terabytes of data per day. They claim it is 40% more energy-efficient than a normal office building and that the water systems consume 75% less water. 

 

Smart lights

Lighting alone tends to account for 10-20% of a building’s energy consumption, meaning that smart lighting solutions have an important role to play in making buildings more energy efficient. IoT platforms allow buildings to manage light sensors and determine the optimal use of energy at certain times of the day. Smart lighting can also enable buildings to control the luminosity level of LED lights for specific areas at specific times, depending on usage. The Edge is a 40,000 m2 office building in Amsterdam with a smart lighting system, installed by Signify. Nearly 6,500 connected LED luminaires create a digital lighting infrastructure throughout the building, reportedly creating an annual reduction of €100,000 in energy costs.

 

Smart lifts

IoT technology can make travelling between high-rise building floors more efficient in terms of both time and energy. Instead of a regular lift with buttons that go up or down, passengers can type in the floor they wish to go to and are directed to the lift that will take them there with the fewest number of stops. By stopping at fewer floors, smart lifts consume less energy, thereby making the entire buildings more energy efficient. The new headquarters for Bee’ah, is packed with ‘contactless pathways’, whereby employees rarely need to touch the building with their hands. Technology has been implemented to enable lifts to be ordered from a smartphone, streamlining employee experience and optimising energy usage.



Talent attraction and retention

As well as achieving significant cost savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions, making your building more sustainable can also be extremely important in terms of talent attraction and retention. Millennials became the largest generation in the labor force in 2016, and they will make up 75% of the global workforce in 2025. A recent study by Cone Communications showed that 87% of millennials ‘believe that companies should address urgent social and environmental issues’. By making your building greener with IoT, you can demonstrate that you are committed to environmental sustainability.

 

There is a pressing need for the buildings we occupy to become more efficient and sustainable. IoT technology has the potential to digitise the entire built environment, making the spaces we live and work in more responsive and efficient.

 

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