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The Case for Connected Buildings

What if we looked at building management systems as a way to increase productivity rather than just for physical plant efficiency? Two interesting news articles were published recently that bring this topic to light. The first article, published by the New York Times titled “Is Conference Room Air Making You Dumber?”, reviews research done with respect to what happens in rooms with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, a normal byproduct of exhalation. Have you ever been in a meeting room and after several hours of hard work, left to realize the room was much warmer than the rest of the workspace? It is likely that not only was the room warmer, but there were increased levels of carbon dioxide as well. Several studies quoted in the article showed that decision-making ability can be negatively impacted amid higher concentrations of carbon dioxide levels.

The second article published by CNN, summarized a recent study by the University of Southern California indicating that women had increased levels of cognitive performance at a temperature higher than their male counterparts. More than just personal preference, room temperature affects performance on things that matter, such as math and verbal dimensions.

What if employees could have a higher level of control over their workplace environments than they typically do today? What if building owners invested in a higher level of monitoring and control of the mechanical systems condition the workplace? Is it worth it to install carbon dioxide sensors in offices and conference rooms to ensure that there is adequate air flow to reduce carbon dioxide levels and as the study suggests, increase employee performance? What if facilities were designed to allow employees the ability to adjust the temperature in their own work environment or have work spaces with different temperature zones?

For years the trend was to reduce a building’s energy expense as a way to save a company money on the bottom line; the basis behind building automation systems was as an energy-savings strategy. However, the property management firm Jones Lange LaSalle (JLL) developed the 3-30-300 rule, which states that for a typical commercial office space, the cost of utilities is $3 per square foot, the cost of rent is $30 per square foot and the payroll cost for the employees in the space is $300 per square foot. Mathematically, if we achieve a 10% increased efficiency in energy consumption, it only affects the corporate bottom line by 30 cents.

What if, instead, through investment in a building automation system and mechanical plant equipment to allow a higher level of individual control, you were able to increase your employees’ productivity? Based on the 3-30-300 rule above, increasing productivity by 10% could result in $30 per square foot of savings. In a 200,000-square-foot office space, that’s a total of $6 million. What would be the return on that investment? This calculation doesn’t even take into account increased employee retention, reduction in losses due to absenteeism, etc. While we cannot understate the importance of energy reduction and efficiency on a global level, building management systems bring the potential for even greater gains beyond energy.

Faith Technologies is a certified EcoXpert™ and is proud to partner with Schneider Electric to provide EcoStruxure™ IoT open architecture building management and security systems to our clients. Let us help you take a look at your ‘what ifs.’ We look forward to redefining what’s possible in your built environment.