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Smart Buildings blog

How can space management work for an office environment?

Posted by Jordan Britchford on Sep 7, 2017 4:40:59 PM

Most companies or other large organisations require a large estate of office space to locate their administration, research, customer services, and other functions – and these office spaces represent a significant cost. Understanding how this space is being used and what improvements can be made is a big part of what makes  a modern Smart Building. Here are some of the best ways that a space management system can help organisations take an evidence-based approach to running their office facilities.

1: See when your space is being used

It might seem as simple as looking at the general opening hours of the office to find out when the space is being used, but this simplistic approach doesn’t account for many aspects of the modern working environment.

For example, with flexible working hours now more popular than ever, can you actually say for sure when most of your office users come and go? What about teams that spend a significant amount of time on the road, going to visit customers or suppliers? A space management system can give you an accurate picture of how many people you need to have space for on an average day, and show you the trends of demand for this space across weeks and months. This can help you to determine how many permanent desks could be converted to ‘hot desks’, saving space.

Knowing when the building is used also gives you a chance to better plan your use of heating within the building, so that it coincides with actual demand and not just when you assume the most people will need it.

2.  Understand demand for meeting rooms

Meeting rooms are another office facility where demand is always at a premium – but are they actually being used in an intelligent way? Are rooms actually being used to capacity, and are bookings definitely being kept? By monitoring meeting room usage you can identify problems of under-utilisation and put in place a new booking system that shows when room bookings are not being kept, which rooms are sitting idle, and create policies so that room usage is as efficient as possible.

3. See how much space you actually need

Depending on how much space you can save, this could mean you can save on utilities for entire rooms at a time by consolidating departments into smaller spaces, even giving you the option of renting out the space yourself or showing that the bigger building you were thinking of moving to might not be needed after all.

Some of Irisys Smart Buildings users have saved millions of dollars in utilities, additional building costs and by making better use of what they already have. Utility bills were one of the biggest challenges facing the Canadian University that we worked with back in 2013, and the system helped them to hugely improve their use of energy, helping to reduce their bills and reduce carbon emissions.


If you’ve any queries on how to make best use of office space, we’ve got more blogs on Smart Buildings. Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to someone, just contact us here.

Topics: Smart Buildings

How National Grid and Irisys rolled out their innovative Smart Building Solution

Posted by Mike Slevin on Apr 28, 2016 1:00:09 PM

In 2013 Irisys was approached by National Grid to help monitor its building utilisation as part of its wider Smart Work Space initiative. National Grid were looking for an unobtrusive way of automatically determining building and floorplate occupancy that wouldn’t require any active involvement from its staff and would respect their privacy. After evaluating a few different technology solutions they approached Irisys, aware of our long history of accurately counting people in retail and transportation.

At the time, the concept of calculating building utilisation and the idea of a Smart Building were already on the edge of our radar so we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate and develop a solution with such an enthusiastic and experienced team as the one lead by Jo, Scott and Simon at National Grid. We initially started a pilot project at the National Grid Headquarters in Warwick, where we produced some quite basic reports that were emailed periodically. As the pilot quickly begun to demonstrate value to National Grid, we integrated the reporting into our new online reporting platform providing 24/7 access to a number of the projects key stakeholders. This development also provided the opportunity to work with the National Grid team on some new reports and improve how the data was presented to ensure insights could be easily derived and appropriate actions taken. It was at this stage we also added in the ability to upload relevant floorplans allowing National Grid users to easily relate the digital data with their physical world.

After a 6 month pilot the project had proven to be a resounding success within National Grid, for the first time allowing them to have operational, accurate and indisputable data on how their office was being utilised. Corporate Property Director, Simon Carter commented “the new Irisys system has helped the Corporate Property team in National Grid maintain the excellent performance of the smart workspace solution. It’s great for helping internal customers understand how their space is being used and provides important feedback to building managers on building usage."

The data also highlighted an overall low level of utilisation (<70%) with significant variation between departments and floors. This was in stark contrast to various comments from business heads stating that indeed they needed more space.

As a result of the initial success, National Grid have since rolled out the Irisys Building Utilisation Solution across its nationwide estate of properties. They’re now able to measure, analyse and act on accurate building, floorplate and zone utilisation data from over 14 buildings helping optimise their corporate property strategy and ensure a comfortable working environment for all their colleagues.

Irisys are continuing to work with National Grid on further improvements to its solution, such as the ability to integrate with its BMS function and provide real time utilisation data.

Topics: Smart Buildings

The State of Smart Buildings in 2016: It's all about people

Posted by Jeff Riordan on Mar 10, 2016 10:55:36 AM

In an era of smart phones, the smart grid, and even smart cars is it any wonder that the buildings which house businesses, government offices, and institutions may actually be leading the way when it comes to built-in intelligence?  But what is it that defines what could be called a Smart Building, an Intelligent Building, an Automated Building or a High Performance Building?

Consider this: A building with smart thermostats is more intelligent than a building with manual thermostats.  A building capable of notifying tenants of a break-in is smarter than one that cannot.  Buildings that could automatically adjust their energy consumption to avoid a utility’s peak demand charges would be even smarter than the majority of buildings that cannot.

The point is this.  In an era of constantly advancing technology, building owners have been installing a variety of “systems” that benefit both their building assets and their tenants.  But the true definition of a smart building lies in the ability to integrate these various systems and operate the building in such a way that allows the system benefits to be fully realized.  In other words, can the people operating the smart building operate the technology so that the facility actually performs for both owner and tenant?

 

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The Drivers

So what’s driving the smart building movement?  The number one driver is cost, and the main costs are energy, rental costs for the space and operating costs for the building.  For example, in the USA in the 1950s a kWh was 1.5 cents.  In the 1990s it was about 6.5 cents. Today, in the US it is above 13 cents.  Buildings with various technology solutions for reducing space utilization and energy consumption and thereby cost, are the most desired smart building solutions.

Current Smart Building Technologies

So what are the most popular smart building components?  Here’s our best assessment of the top 10:

  1. Automated Temperature Controls
  2. Automated Lighting Systems
  3. Security Systems
  4. Broad Band and Wi-Fi
  5. Scalable Data System Architecture
  6. Advanced Sensor Technology (motion, temperature and pressure)
  7. Alarms and Alerts
  8. Centralized Control Dashboard for all systems
  9. Air Quality Sensors
  10. Energy Demand Monitoring and Management

You are probably familiar with those ten, but what is the missing piece of the puzzle?

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The Latest Advance in Building Intelligence – People Metrics

Smart building operators, engineers, building owners and architects are always looking to add new intelligence to their buildings – especially if it can be easily integrated with existing control and communication systems.  From our work over the last several years Irisys has become convinced that integrating people counting metrics into the smart building system is a key but largely overlooked component of smart building systems.  

That is precisely what Irisys People Counters do.  Strategically placed sensors within a facility provide data on how many people are using the space, how often they are using it and at what times.  Imagine doing people counts on how many people used the various conference rooms, offices or rest areas, or using people metric data to identify wasted space and over-used space. 

Irisys people counting data is used by building operators, consultants, corporate facility directors, and other building professionals to help understand the dynamics of the office environment.  The data helps designers re-purpose specific areas, or even allows tenants to consolidate their operations into smaller more efficient (and less costly) space.

Irisys technology is easily integrated with IP building systems and most major control and communication protocol for easy integration into the smart building architecture.

Conclusion

The state of smart buildings is expanding.  As you look ahead to the future of smart buildings, one thing appears certain:  tomorrow’s smart buildings will be considering the activity of people within the office space, and companies like Irisys will be bringing people counting to the frontier of building intelligence.

Topics: Smart Buildings, smart HVAC, energy saving

Smart Sensors can Help Optimize HVAC Systems in Automated Buildings

Posted by Allen Haynes on Feb 23, 2016 1:59:33 PM

About one-third of all commercial HVAC units are too big for the spaces they serve – often resulting in excessive energy costs that seriously impact a building’s financial performance.

Higher-than-needed energy expenditures may be passed along as inflated tenant fees or increased costs for products and services, which make businesses less competitive – particularly when those dollars could be invested in research, development, new staff or revenue-growing initiatives.

Strategic energy optimization methods, however, can transition an oversized HVAC system into a more “right-sized” system that adjusts to dynamic occupancy levels that fluctuate during the day or week. These methods help lower operational costs, which can be reallocated to other areas.

While building automation solutions already exist, the addition of a smart sensor can be a key component in making some of these solutions even smarter.

Thermal sensors, in particular, can be incredibly valuable because they’re renowned for accuracy – even in low- and no-light conditions. They also require very little energy and are flexible in capturing, integrating with and delivering data to any number of building automation systems.

Increasingly popular HVAC-optimization systems include:

Building Automation Systems

A building automation system (BAS) not only puts the building operator in greater control of the facility’s temperature and comfort – but also allows the operator to track inefficient energy expenditures.  

Not just limited to monitoring and adjusting temperatures, a BAS also measures ambient light, occupancy levels, indoor air quality and humidity to fine-tune its program and control lighting circuits, comfort setpoints, fresh air and energy usage more effectively. 

For example, if the BAS detects no one is occupying a certain zone, it may adjust accordingly, even if the standard program dictates otherwise. A BAS used throughout a particular building, over time, may actually learn occupant habits. It will then create a program to meet energy needs in the most efficient way possible.

Variable Speed Motors

A single-speed fan motor runs at one level: its highest. More than 95 percent of all HVAC systems in the United States use single-speed fan motors.  Variable speed motors, however, give more flexibility in heating and cooling because, as the name implies, they run fans at varying speeds – not just the maximum speed.  

Modest changes in airflow result in significant energy savings, according to the fan affinity law from physics. For example, when the speed of a fan motor is decreased 20 percent, the air flow also decreases 20 percent, but actual energy usage drops 50 percent. The resulting energy consumption is lower – as are the building’s energy expenditures.

Adding variable frequency drive units to existing single speed blower fans – and adjusting the speed of fans based on levels of occupancy – may make it possible to generate even better energy savings.

Demand Controlled Ventilation

Not all areas of a building are created equally. Some parts may flurry with activity at one time of the day and be virtually unoccupied during others – meaning money is being wasted when an HVAC uniformly heats or cools a building that doesn’t have uniform occupancy and usage.

That’s where demand controlled ventilation systems step in.  Demand controlled ventilation (DCV) is a ventilation system feature that automatically drops outdoor air intake below the building’s original design rates, so energy usage decreases when space occupancy levels drop below design-based occupancy.

Traditionally, measuring space carbon dioxide (CO2) has been the most common method of determining occupancy.  Unfortunately, the delay in getting accurate counts when using CO2 sensors may cause the control system to react too slowly to match true occupancy level needs.  The preferred method of managing DCV is to use people counters that more accurately determine occupancy levels.

In Summary

All of these solutions have a variety of applications – from large-scale business and multi-purpose buildings to manufacturing and industrial complexes that require precise heating and cooling to protect equipment, technology and other capital.

Smart sensors can play an important role in optimizing HVAC expenditures – as their integration gives these systems the data they need to be truly intelligent.

Topics: Smart Buildings, Building efficiency, Building Utilisation, Thermal Imaging, building automation, building analytics, smart HVAC, HVAC

How Buildings Waste Energy

Posted by Allen Haynes on Feb 17, 2016 2:01:28 PM

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Topics: Smart Buildings, smart HVAC, Energy Waste, HVAC, Earth Day

How can corporate offices save space, energy and money? People Counting technology

Posted by Jeff Riordan on Feb 12, 2016 9:57:26 AM

When you think of improving space utilization at your corporate office facility, you are more likely to think about creative uses of space, the latest trends in interiors, even current metrics like space density, but certainly not about scientific data concerning the movement of people within the facility.

But times are changing and new types of data are becoming available. Intelligent technologies employed by leading retailers are making their way into space utilization programs within corporate and lease-tenant environments.

People counting sensors have been helping retailers correlate traffic to sales and even identify the most popular areas of the store for years.  Today retailers not only count people, but are identifying traffic patterns within the store.

People counting sensors can identify places in corporate facilities that experience high flow intensity, low flow intensity, most used, and least used areas.   They will even show traffic patterns of where (and how often) people walked throughout the facility. Real data is collected and can be displayed numerically or graphically. 

The methodology for this kind of tracking is simple. People counting sensors are set up at the entrances and in various zones throughout the facility to measure activity such as conference room and flex work usage and which corridors are most frequently traveled. What is unique about this approach are the results: actual empirical data on space usage. Data gathered can refute incorrect assumptions and take people’s opinion out of the mix.  Real data can be the driver for effective building consolidation and rental cost reduction strategies.

For example, corporate management may have “guesstimated” information that indicates the break room is the most heavily used room in the facility. Or the board room is almost never used. Or certain departments are the hubs of human activity. The results from ongoing internal flow analysis can often be surprising – shedding new light not only on productivity, but actual facility usage, and uncovering patterns of use that had not been previously considered. 

Using this data, space can be repurposed more intelligently. Instead of one large conference room, a facility might set up two or three smaller conference rooms. At larger facilities, space can be consolidated allowing the organization to be more productive in less space and with fewer floors resulting in a significant cost savings.

It is important to note when specifying people counting sensors, accuracy of the count data is of primary concern.  The key to valid people flow metrics is the precision of the data at each counting location.  Employing inaccurate sensors will eventually create a cumulative error that, over time, will render the data useless.  Selecting the most accurate people counting devices available is essential.

In an era of smart buildings, smart stores, and ever emerging technologies, it isn’t surprising that space designers are embracing newly available intelligence that is helping them be more effective.   The consultants, architects, and other outside vendors who do space utilization studies appreciate having the empirical insight, the “extra tool in the toolbox,” so to speak.  It helps differentiate their approach and it provides actual data their clients can rely on.

Creativity, purpose, and the latest trends in interior designs will always be a part of space utilization programs. Soon however, one of the primary drivers in these types of projects will be people counting and traffic data from Irisys products.

Topics: Smart Buildings, smart HVAC, energy saving

Smart Buildings Save Energy and Money in the U.S.

Posted by Allen Haynes on Feb 4, 2016 2:03:00 PM

We live in an era of “going green” and reducing our energy footprint. From hybrid cars, to eliminating presevatives and everything in between, being conscious of consumption is prevalent. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States wastes 30 percent of our overall energy – not so “green” or economical.

Smart Buildings are the solution.

According to the Harvard Business Review, Smart Building technology “improve[s] the quality and interactivity of urban services, while reducing costs and ensuring sustainability.”

And the analytics gathered from one smart building can generate an energy savings of 15 percent to 25 percent, without paying for costly retrofits or disrupting tenants, according to the Harvard Business Review

This is where Irisys steps in. By deploying a network of highly advanced thermal cameras and sensors throughout buildings, Irisys delivers real-time intelligence about the facility. This data can then be used to determine how and when a building is occupied, allowing you to save energy and money by spotting patterns and anticipating needs – providing an energy efficient, but also comfortable environment for tenants.

Smart buildings eliminate the guesswork of staffing, heating, lighting and cleaning and optimizing space by providing solid evidence.

Learn more about the technology implemented within a Smart Building, and how Irisys can help you maximize your space while minimizing wasted energy and money.

Topics: Smart Buildings, smart HVAC

Smart Buildings Infographic

Posted by Paul Fulton on Apr 22, 2015 3:03:00 PM


Happy Earth Day 2015! Colleges and universities are at the forefront of utilizing smart buildings technology to improve energy efficiency. Take a look at how US and UK institutions stack up in terms of energy costs.

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Topics: building intelligence, data analytics, building operations, Building Utilisation, Buildling Efficiency, intelligent buildings, intelligent building systems, energy use in buildings, energy loss, green buildings, building management systems, Resource utilisation, Building Technologies, building automation, building utilization review and repurposing, Smart Building Solutions, cost-effective solutions, Back to school, heat loss detection, AC SYSTEMS

People Counting for Buildings: Construction of U.S. Commercial Buildings Continues Rapid Acceleration

Posted by Paul Fulton on Aug 18, 2014 6:10:00 PM

Eighty-seven-billion square feet of floor space now stretches across 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States, according to findings from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey.

While energy consumption data will not be released until next year, the survey found significant levels of growth within the U.S. commercial building sector – with the number of buildings jumping 14 percent and the amount of floor space climbing a tremendous 22 percent since 2003.

With more than 2.24 million buildings in its region, the South led the way in commercial development during the timeframe, followed by the West (more than 1.26 million) and the Midwest (1.23 million).

Historically, the survey has found increasing levels of energy consumption over time. But with commercial buildings being smarter now than ever before, it can’t be assumed this overall trend will continue. But not every building is a smart building. Nearly 20 percent of commercial buildings are old – built before World War II. And some old and newer buildings are downright energy hogs.

That’s why People Counting for Buildings can be an intelligent investment. People Counters unobtrusively analyze how a building’s occupants utilize the building as a whole as well as within individual spaces.

Over time, data trends begin to show times of consistently high and consistently low occupancy levels – down to individual meeting rooms.

That data powers Building Automation Systems to optimize notoriously power-hungry HVAC and lighting systems. When those systems are automated to align with actual building usage, significant dollars are saved and can be invested into other areas of a facility.

Click here to learn more about Irisys’ People Counting solutions for more intelligent commercial buildings.

Topics: Building efficiency, building intelligence, commercial energy usage, building operations, Building Utilisation, buildings, intelligent buildings, intelligent building systems, intelligent building technology, energy use in buildings, green buildings, building management systems, Building Technologies, intelligent building solutions, building automation, building analytics, building utilization review and repurposing, Brick-and-mortar, Footfall Counters, Irisys People Counter

Network Rail Invests in People Counting Technology

Posted by Natasha Gingles on Jul 31, 2014 4:28:00 PM

Britain’s largest train stations are increasingly popular destinations for retail, food and drink – in addition to those traveling by rail. That’s what the data from more than 1,700 discreet infrared sensors deployed throughout Network Rail’s largest train stations uncovered in its effort to discover not just how many people use its stations – but actually how they use them as part of its goal to improve passenger perception.

Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure, has undertaken the aggressive project in collaboration with PFM Footfall Intelligence to raise customer service standards – as well as the standards of its people, processes and facilities – at its Managed Station concepts. These large complex stations are usually situated in the hearts of city centers and often are of historical, architectural and engineering significance.

Irisys’ infrared sensors have been integrated into station access points, platforms, retail outlets, washrooms, left luggage and other areas. The sensors discreetly detect individuals by their body heat – so personal identities and privacy are not compromised – in an effort to gain unique insights into a particular station and across the Network Rail estate. Data collected by the sensors is passed into PFM’s database management tool, which reports crucial information to key station personnel throughout the day via a near real-time dashboard.

The joint solution gives rich insight into how many customers use Network Rail’s stations – and in what capacity they use them. A recent analysis, for example, found tens of millions of people visit the stations each year to shop, eat and drink – in addition to those who travel by rail.

The finding validated National Rail’s strategy of adding “must-visit” retail destinations across its portfolio of stations to improve the customer experience and open up additional lines of revenue. All profits from Network Rail’s commercial activity are re-invested in the railway to help build a safer, more reliable and growing network for its passengers and freight users.

The intelligent system can also uncover other customer-centered information like traffic patterns that are unique to specific times of day and days of the week; which spaces and facilities, like washrooms, are utilized the most and the least; and shopping-traffic patterns.

That data can be leveraged to make a number of strategic improvements – including customer flow throughout a station; spatial optimization; or even the strategic adjustment of advertising rates in high-traffic areas. And with passenger numbers expected to double over the next 15 years, it is increasing critical to understand the customer journey through the rail network and interaction with the facilities provided in stations.

PFM has a track record of delivering customer-focused solutions within complex environments such as that of Network Rail,” says David Sturdy, managing director of PFM Footfall Intelligence. “Our wealth of experience in managing and translating data into accurate, meaningful information has always been a central emphasis of our work, helping to deliver enhanced customer experiences.”

“Network Rail has consistently high levels of service and ambitious plans for the future,” says Nick Stogdale, division director of detector products for Irisys. “We hope the integration of our infrared technology will help Network Rail’s continuing success story as part of its important contribution to an innovative transportation strategy.”

Click below to download our free white paper: "Irisys Technology Adds Intelligence to Smart Buildings," which explores how infrared detectors are being used to make buildings more intelligent.

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Topics: Smart Buildings, Building efficiency, building intelligence, building operations, Building Utilisation, buildings, intelligent buildings, intelligent building systems, intelligent building technology, building management systems, Space Utilisation, Building Technologies, smart building systems, smart building technology, intelligent building solutions, building automation, building analytics, building utilization review and repurposing, Smart Building Solutions, Intelligent Analytics Platform, Space Utilization, People Counting for Buildings

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