A building should be more than the outer shell of a company; it should be the backbone upon which an organization can thrive. Today’s technology allows buildings to become intelligent contributors to an operations’ success, like an extra staff member, by integrating the physical structure with technology to unlock its full potential. This should be top of mind as building owners and construction and design teams work together to reach the desired outcomes. Creating a smart building means building smarter.
A Holistic Approach for Smoother Construction
Technology shouldn’t be an afterthought in the construction process. But, with different vendors focused on specific pieces of a project, from digital to physical components, how can building owners ensure everyone is working toward the same smart building goal? Taking an approach that can align each vendor during the planning phases through construction can help everyone remain focused on desired outcomes and work more efficiently together.
Step one is to arm the owner or developer and their key stakeholders with a technology roadmap for the project before the official planning stages begin. This can help ensure that details and logistics of how the technology will be designed, planned, funded, incorporated, used, and maintained are included in the construction strategy from the very beginning. This early engagement can help set the project up for greater success long-term.
Proper planning allows for a clear understanding of what is required to deliver desired outcomes and how to best incorporate these into other aspects of the building to streamline operations and maximize savings at every opportunity. For example, in an office or industrial building, environment optimization is key for employee comfort, as well as operational efficiency.
Integrated HVAC and lighting systems can utilize a smart occupancy sequence to detect use in a space during scheduled hours of operation, allowing better use of staff and energy efficiency during hours of no-occupancy. When occupants do enter an area, lighting can be turned on or brightened, and the HVAC system can adjust temperature. System metrics can then be run based on occupancy of areas, allowing for informed insights, and leading to a better use of resources across the building or facility, all while increasing comfort of staff and tenants.
Building the Toolkit for Successful Integration
The next step is to provide the owner as well as the design and construction teams with the tools needed to align the technology roadmap with desired outcomes. This includes developing a plan for the building, required business and vertical market systems, and budgets wrapped up in an easily executable package for the construction team.
Entering a new project with intelligent infrastructure goals in mind allows for optimized planning, installation, and financial savings and lays the groundwork for a truly smart building.
An important part of this process is identifying essential technologies that support the vision for the building. Once identified, the team can then make informed decisions based on budget and desired outcomes outlined in the first phase. These can mean specific security needs in an airport project, workflow concerns in a place of business, or energy-efficiency targets to save costs. What’s most important is thoughtful consideration of the technologies that will support project goals, and then determining how to best set them up to help the construction team stay on schedule and on budget, minimizing surprises over the course of the buildout, and even lowering upfront costs by significant amounts.
Successful Integration for the Lifecycle of the Building
Once technology considerations are mapped out, a single point of contact can assume responsibility for technology integration during the construction phase. For this to be successful, a building owner should enlist a technology contractor early in the process who can help from planning through technology implementation — an approach that ensures that goals are the focus of concept and design phases, ultimately making construction, technology integration, and optimization of the building a smoother and more cost-effective process.
Better coordination and communication come naturally when vendors are streamlined, which allows for less duplication of efforts, fewer change orders, and faster commissioning. When this occurs at the beginning of the building process as technology planning occurs, it allows for maximum savings, often as high as 12 percent in just the initial cost of a project. With such significant savings available, it frees up budget to ensure that the project outcome outlined in the beginning phases is obtainable.
Intelligently deployed technology saves energy and aids workflow and worker productivity, reducing both utility and operational expenses.
Once the building phase is complete, the venue continues to generate savings through the systems implemented. Intelligently deployed technology saves energy and aids workflow and worker productivity, reducing both utility and operational expenses. Integration from the earliest stages allows for best practices to be followed when connecting systems such as security, access control, WiFi, HVAC, and lighting. Being able to have these systems “talk” to each other ensures that they and the building as a whole operate most efficiently.
In addition to these considerations, the building still requires maintenance and technology updates throughout its full lifecycle to remain successful. Technology services offer seamless and sustainable operation of the various technologies that are engineered and implemented in the building for the facility, business, and vertical market systems being utilized. Continuing to have a single point of contact after construction has finished can help building owners keep up with the needs of their facility regardless of available resources or skill set.
By keeping end goals top-of-mind and ensuring there is cohesion among building partners throughout the entire process, building owners are able to minimize the moving parts of a building project. The result is the ability to save money and stick to their desired timeline, while achieving and maintaining the smart building they envisioned. A high-performing, future-ready, truly smart building can have a lasting impact for the life of the facility, driving real value for the occupants and organizations that depend on it.