The evolution and increasing popularity of “smart buildings” is just one way that we are harnessing technology to create more healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient environments for the U.S. workforce.
New innovations in building automation are gathering steam. In 2021, the Department of Energy announced $61 million for pilot projects that will upgrade homes and workplaces into state-of-the-art, energy efficient buildings. The global smart buildings market is expected to reach more than $111 billion by 2026.
Building automation is no longer limited to control of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Now, office and retail buildings are being outfitted with smart sensors, centralized control systems, analytics and wireless connectivity. These improvements have multiple implications for air quality, health, comfort and efficiency. Here are a few ways smart buildings are affecting office and retail spaces:
As office work cultures shift toward a more flexible remote model, smart buildings can offer increased efficiency, with wireless infrastructure expanding to allow smart devices to be deployed pretty much anywhere—giving greater flexibility while cutting down on installation costs.
That’s important because it allows a building to keep track of how many people are in it and where through occupancy detectors, which aids in energy management. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 19% of the nation’s total energy consumption comes from office buildings, and 44% of that goes to space heating, cooling and ventilation. Buildings that automatically cut power to these when people are no longer in certain areas—combined with enhanced energy management systems—can lead to significant reductions in cost. No need to remember to turn the lights and HVAC off—they’ll do that themselves.
Plus, in the same way smart buildings can monitor and improve HVAC systems, they also improve air quality—detecting the presence of gasses like carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen, and increasing airflow to affected rooms without physical intervention.
Retail owners tend to be pulled in a lot of directions at once—and building automation gives them one less thing to worry about. As with office spaces, building management systems conserve energy, especially when areas are not in use—automatically dimming lights or adjusting the temperature based on occupancy for anything from the restroom to the warehouse.
Retail automation can also include access control software, allowing a retail owner to control— and keep records of—how access is granted and to whom. And automated fire systems can detect and contain a fire while notifying a fire department without anybody needing to pull an alarm, protecting employees, customers and inventory.
With these features and more, integrated building management has a role to play in the future of many industries, and is becoming increasingly indispensable. Smart building systems can be applied across all property classes – healthcare, office and retail—allowing property owners to reap the benefits of letting computers do the work.
Life Balance Technologies has developed an integrated solution for air balance auditing that reviews 100 percent of a facility for infection risk. The Life Balance process integrates the mechanical design, HVAC inventory, room application, and industry standards to audit the infection control parameters of an entire building. To learn more about this innovative technology, visit our Software page.