Pushing Smart Connected Buildings to New Heights for Hybrid Work
Illustration: © AI For All
Over the last century, workplace lighting technology has evolved from manual ON and OFF switches to more sophisticated and automated systems like dimmer controls and motion sensors. While each step forward has marked significant advancements, they’ve also come with a distinct set of challenges.
For example, preparing a conference room for a group meeting often requires adjusting multiple dimmer controls to reach the desired setting. This can interfere with valuable meeting time and cause frustration among occupants – not to mention the inefficiencies around energy use every time one of the dimmers is left on.
Smart, connected LEDs and building controls represent the latest frontier in this evolution. This technology offers unprecedented levels of automated customization, energy efficiency, and sustainability for office lighting environments. And this is precisely what’s needed today (and into the future) to effectively manage the fluctuating schedules of hybrid work.
Smart Building Breakthroughs for Energy Efficiency and Optimization
With both rising fuel costs and evolving climate change regulations, more businesses are prioritizing energy efficiency in their office buildings as a solution to combat these pressures. However, in the work environment, employees, including the C-suite, typically fail to prioritize energy conservation. They’re more focused on ensuring an optimal work environment, especially as more businesses are expected to transition to hybrid work schedules in the coming year.
These energy conservation priorities include well-lit spaces, comfortable room temperatures, enhanced air quality, and more. Automated smart building management systems help make these expectations achievable to the point where occupants don’t even notice the underlying technology at work.
Comprised of smart LED luminaires, network controllers, sensors, and more, smart building platforms empower buildings to operate more intelligently, easing the manual responsibilities of their owners and occupants. By leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced analytics, intelligent lighting systems provide facilities managers with total control of their building’s environment.
Everything from lighting to HVAC levels, settings can be customized and controlled in real-time according to individual preferences, total occupancy, and availability of daylight, among other factors. This spans from a single fixture to a complete room, building, or group of properties – all from the convenience of a mobile app.
By providing an optimal occupant experience, smart building technology improves employee satisfaction and increases productivity levels, resulting in long-term tenant retention. This is great news for building owners in today’s sluggish commercial real estate market. Additionally, due to the ability to easily monitor energy use through IoT-based sensors and data analytics, facilities managers can make adjustments where needed, driving further cost savings while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Harnessing AI for Even More Intelligent Building Performance
The next wave of intelligent buildings will increasingly incorporate AI into the smart building platform to provide us with a powerful tool to transform the way we work and the way owners manage their buildings. Integrating AI and machine learning into the smart building network enhances a building’s ability to autonomously adapt to the dynamic changes occurring within its environment.
This includes employee movements (e.g., sporadic hybrid work schedules, varying meeting schedules), lighting and temperature control habits, and any other preferences within their workspaces. The smart building system traces these behaviors and automatically adjusts itself to be more efficient, optimizing not only energy use but employee productivity. When deployed correctly, AI-powered smart building platforms should reduce environmental distractions, not amplify them
How does this work? Data is collected through IoT-based sensors; everything from occupancy, temperature, humidity, and energy usage, and is then fed into sophisticated AI models that uncover patterns and trends to ultimately pinpoint areas for improvement.
Through ML, smart building systems can learn a room's usage patterns, including the type of meetings it holds and the times of day they usually occur. The system accumulates this data over time and begins to automatically configure the room according to its appropriate schedule and purpose. This advancement allows employees to enter freely into a meeting space and get right to work without any lighting or heating distractions; the office space is already customized to their personal preferences, enhancing employee productivity.
With this ongoing accumulation of data, intelligent IoT-based building platforms can also provide predictive analytics that enable facilities managers to make smarter decisions about their building management. For example, AI algorithms can analyze historical data regarding energy consumption during certain weather conditions and then compare this data to current weather patterns to predict future energy usage requirements.
Smart building platforms can also monitor the performance of building equipment through sensors and alert facilities managers to any maintenance work needed before a failure happens, avoiding or reducing repair downtime. Receiving this level of insight allows building owners to better optimize their energy use and reduce costs, while it also gives them a level of visibility to make more improvements in the future. Using the same data sets, owners can extend the intelligent building platform across multiple buildings.
This next phase of smart building innovation propels buildings toward an unprecedented level of intelligence, eliminating the need for manual adjustments and minimizing human analysis. Data-driven smart buildings automatically correct and optimize themselves through a continuous loop of data monitoring and reporting, allowing facilities executives to focus on other necessary tasks for maximizing their building’s effectiveness.
Simultaneously, smart buildings allow businesses to be comfortable in their space, without having to worry about the nuisance of manually controlling their space. In the new era of hybrid work, the best connected room is the one you don’t even notice.