As businesses move toward digital transformation, building owners are forced to make decisions to ensure their facilities are future-ready in order to stay competitive. This holds especially true for corporate headquarters as the state of their properties plays a major role in attracting and retaining talent. Creating a smart building can offer employees and future staff a more comfortable and productive working environment, but it can be difficult for owners to determine how to best approach transforming their facilities.
Finding the Right Approach
Integrated building systems are the foundation of a smart building — whether through a technology retrofit or new construction project. This convergence happens when a building’s digital and its physical structure connect to technology operating in the facility to allow the implementation of integrated building systems for a comprehensive approach to building management. Whether the facility is a hospital, school, or corporate headquarters, a building is only truly intelligent when previously siloed systems — such as lighting, HVAC, access controls — connect with one another to share information.
Once building owners decide to engage in a digital transformation of their building, it’s critical to bring together key stakeholders before starting the project to determine the desired outcomes of their future-ready building, define the buildings purpose and vision, uncover priorities, and maximize every dollar spent. While each facility seeks unique outcomes, it’s crucial that upgrades are integrated as a functional whole and not thought of as a collection of independent systems. This is key because if integration is attempted after systems have been installed and construction is complete, the process is much more costly, difficult, and time-consuming to maintain. Following this approach beforehand can also reduce any risks associated with the project. Regardless of the distinct needs of the building, owners should make sure they plan for a digital transformation that is smart, secured, integrated, and sustainable for today and the future to fully reap the benefits of technology integration.
The Benefits of Technology Integration
From the optimization of systems, software, and network infrastructure to improved communications, the benefits of transforming to a digital building are plentiful. Ultimately, facilities gain a more unified, secure, and resilient infrastructure through the convergence of building, business, and vertical market systems.
Integrated building systems are the foundation of a smart building — whether through a technology retrofit or new construction project.
For corporate headquarters, building owners will have objectives based on their business needs, but many of the advantages of digitally transforming their property are similar across the board. Integration enables more meaningful and actionable data from the building’s systems, ensuring more efficient and cost-effective building management. The real-time data collected from integrated systems can help building owners better understand how the space is utilized and make improvements accordingly to provide a more efficient, optimized, and productive workplace.
For example, if there is an important meeting happening in a specific conference room, the building management system (BMS) can be connected to conference room scheduling to ensure temperature and lighting are customized to meet the unique needs of the occupants in the room. Not only can monitoring temperature and lighting boost employee productivity, but it can also help building owners save money in the long run. By tracking light levels, building owners can recognize peak electrical demands and adjust building systems as appropriate during different hours of the day and week. The company can use information gathered to determine how long employees are in certain areas of the office and analyze those findings to determine performance during specific times of the day.
In addition, security and life safety systems should be considered in the integration process as they’re beneficial to ensuring a safe and comfortable corporate headquarters. When connected, security managements systems can communicate with building management systems for increased occupant safety and reduced utility consumption. For instance, when an employee “badges” into the building, the security system can alert the building system to automatically enable HVAC and lighting within the zone. Similarly, when the employee checks out of the building, the lighting and HVAC that was authorized will shut down.
It’s critical for building owners to evaluate current systems and identify how they can be optimized with the new lighting and HVAC systems to keep people and assets more secure. In the event of an emergency, when connected, HVAC equipment can communicate with sensors to alert the mass notification system on the location of the threat and help guide occupants to safety.
By breaking down the technology integration process, any building can be successful in accomplishing its desired end result as long as the defined business outcomes are considered during every step of the integration process. This approach can help building owners balance the benefits and risks associated with the upgrades they wish to make. A completely connected, digital environment is advantageous to owners and employees, as a holistic view of facility management can provide insights to help positively impact future business decisions.