How Smart Building Technology Saves Money
Buildings across the country are getting smarter every day. From smart lighting to indoor positioning systems, smart technologies are game changers for today’s facility managers. These new technologies are helping them drastically reduce their operating budgets by reducing energy consumption and enabling predictive equipment maintenance.
Lower energy costs
Buildings are among the biggest contributors to today’s energy and sustainability challenges. Commercial buildings account for about 40% of all energy consumption in the U.S., according to the Alliance to Save Energy. It’s no surprise then to learn that energy use is the single largest operating expense for a typical office building, making it an obvious target for cost-cutting measures.
So, how can smart technologies help reduce energy consumption and costs? Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smart sensors are making it possible for building managers to monitor everything from temperature and humidity to noise and motion. By collecting data about human activity in a building, they can monitor energy sources and energy use throughout the building and improve control of energy consumption.
- Smart thermostats can help reduce energy costs by automating HVAC controls to meet the needs and preferences of the building’s occupants. By installing occupancy-based wireless thermostats and enabling the HVAC system to reduce operation when the building is unoccupied, building owners can save as much as 10% on HVAC energy costs.
- Demand control ventilation (DCV), used in conjunction with occupancy-based sensors, can control ventilation and airflow. By measuring occupancy levels and reducing ventilation rates during periods of reduced peak occupancy or vacancy, the use of DCV has been reported to deliver an average 38% energy reduction in buildings with a payback of 2.5 years.
- Smart lighting systems can generate significant savings in energy use and operating costs. Wi- Fi-enabled lights that can be programmed can enable significant energy savings. Optical sensors can automatically determine the level of light needed in any room and turn lights off when unoccupied. Such smart sensor technology can reduce energy costs for a typical office building by 18%, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Reduced Equipment Costs
Equipment maintenance and repair costs can add significantly to a building’s operating budget. Smart technologies can be deployed to help lower these costs, improve equipment performance and reduce downtime.
Smart technology enables predictive maintenance of machines, equipment and other critical assets. Sensors attached to these assets can continuously collect data about equipment usage. Sensors report real-time diagnostic information on equipment performance that building managers can use to plan service calls and reduce service disruption and increase system uptime. With predictive information about repair and maintenance issues, you can realize real savings by preventing costly emergency repair services.
In the future, all commercial buildings will be smart. In fact, over the next few years, more than 75% of new construction will include at least one smart building technology, according to a report by Mind Commerce, while most (about 85%) existing buildings exhibit issues that will demand significant upgrades.
While integrating smart technologies into new construction projects is easier when they are part of the building architecture, building retrofits can be a bit more challenging. If you’ve decided that you’re ready for a smart building upgrade, make sure you have an effective building operations platform — and a clear plan for implementing an IoT system. Your local electric cooperative offers Power Moves® rebates for qualifying energy efficiency upgrades, and can work with you to plan your project to ensure that your upgrades maximize savings. Contact your local electric co-op’s energy advisor for details or to start planning.