In spite of all the advancements in telecommunication speeds, and mobile devices, the workplace continues to be a pivotal point in the lives of many professionals. The interpretation of the workplace has not changed much over years: it is a commercial building (or a few floors within a building) where many employees & visitors carry out business activities during scheduled hours.
The objective of the workplace, therefore, becomes to provide an ambient working environment to the office workers during business hours. The ambient working environment naturally is combination of many factors – adequate lighting, comfortable temperature, and noise isolation. Depending on the weather conditions of the office, the facility may incur significant expenses in maintaining a good working ambience – for thermostats, indoor lighting, and soundproofing. Indeed, 5.5 million commercial buildings across the US represent 19% of the nation’s primary energy expenditure .
For many facility mangers, electricity usage represents a significant opportunity for costs savings, but they need to embark on these savings without affecting the comfort of office workers. This is where smart technologies have a role to play. Smart technologies have emerged largely due to innovations in IoT devices, and development in building control such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), window shading, plugs, and lighting.
How would smart technologies work? With the building blocks of IoT based sensors and automated controls in place, one only needs to enable the consumption of resources to actual usage by office staff. Simple use cases might involve bringing in natural sunlight through smart window shadings on sunny days and turning off the artificial lighting. Or reducing the power of HVAC systems depending on presence of employees on the floor. Some studies estimate that such technologies could help a 50,000 sq. ft. office save up to 200,000 kWh per year, a notable 23% reduction!
To conclude, the possibilities for applying smart technologies in the workplace are endless. Numerous use cases could be explored in other industries as well, such as healthcare and hospitality, where there is much scope for resource efficiency. It is only by improving resource efficiencies that we can hope to arrest the carbon footprint of our modern lifestyles. And smart technologies have a vital role to play in that.
US Department of Energy, Commercial Building Initiative, 2010 https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/commercial_initiative/cbi_fs.pdf
Jennifer King and Christopher Perry, Smart Buildings: Using Smart Technology to Save Energy in Existing Buildings, Feb 2017