What is new in Smart Buildings?

IoT is now allowing to reinvent the way we use and manage buildings, providing us with huge advances to make buildings more sustainable and comfier for their users, while saving money. 

Facility management companies face increasing pressures from new regulations pushing them to ensure building efficiency and operational continuity. The access to use evidence-based data allows these management companies to make informed decisions based on reliable and easy-to-access content. 

Simple low-cost devices, connected to a LoRaWAN network, offer valuable real-time contextualized data, making buildings what we know today as “connected buildings”. These devices can help with efficient energy management, water leakage detection, indoor environment, structural health monitoring, building security, or even health management of those using the building. 


IoT benefits for Smart Buildings 

Energy consumption today represents one of the main parts of the operating costs of a building. Technology helps improve buildings infrastructure by helping save energy and improve sustainability. With that aim, gas, electricity, and water consumption must be managed in a transparent and solid manner. 

The introduction of IoT devices to measure the usage of heating, cooling, lighting, and fire safety can help to build managers set goals to avoid overconsumption and waste, helping these buildings become more sustainable. This can be achieved by installing sub-metering systems connected to LoRaWAN and to dedicated applications for real-time consumption metering. 

LoRaWAN™ technology works as the best alternative to wired networks due to its long-range, unique penetration capabilities, flexibility, easy operation & maintenance, and safe & reliable data transfer. 

Some IoT solutions, like the Advangrid LoRaWAN End-to-end Electricity Monitoring Solution, for example, have been designed to specifically monitor power quality and consumption of any 3-phase 4 wire or single-phase circuits with up to 5000A. As well as consumption data, this solution’s sensors provide info about active power, current, voltage, reactive power, and power factor.  

Other Smart building problems related to energy consumption, like water leakage, can also be covered by IoT solutions, helping to save water not only in normal usage but also in the building’s piping infrastructure. 

Water leakage and meter reading represent two of the biggest operational costs for operators of buildings and facilities. Water metering solutions like the Shenzhen Friendcom Ultrasonic Water Meter, allow management departments to keep a close eye on flow reporting, remote on-off valve control, fault warning, and other functions which greatly facilitate statistics and management of users' water consumption. 

Smart buildings security is another crucial aspect when it comes to managing a building. Fire, intrusion, and access to control systems are key components of a smart and connected building. LoRaWAN systems based on sensors contribute to creating an effective alarm chain, connecting doors, windows, emergency buttons, motion detection or tracking devices will allow having a well-rehearsed and proofed building. 


Workspace Management 

Another big advance in Smart Buildings is the opportunity to manage the workspace in which workers do their daily life. Through solutions like the Workspace Management Starter Kit, management units can monitor multiple operations simultaneously and drive new insights thanks to the data provided by smart sensors. Solutions like this one offer a wide range of automation opportunities, improving the productivity of entire teams, reducing operational spending, and optimizing business outcomes. They allow to monitor very different aspects of a building from one unique dashboard, and to connect and monitor all assets through wireless sensors, centralizing data readings, detecting alerts, or sharing business information. 

IoT solutions also allow for the management of the people occupying the building. Workspace occupancy dashboards can also be configured to increase or downsize offices and reallocate unused areas. Environmental dashboards can also be set up to provide real-time and historical monitoring of environment data like temperature, light, humidity, or motion detection to improve work conditions and end useless energy consumption costs. 

Another solution provided is related to the cleaning of common areas or tools. Real-time and historical data related to sanitation can also improve work conditions and can help adapt the size of human resources needed. 


Enhance workspace safety while fighting COVID-19 

As well as monitoring the building itself, workspace management solutions can help control and stop the disease from spreading. IoT solutions like the Indoor Air Quality Monitoring or the Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing for COVID-19 Starter Kits work to help keep Coronavirus risk at a minimum through digitalized workplace security. 

The Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Starter Kit focuses on the increasing attention Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has been gaining during the last years from environmental governance authorities, which are making IAQ-related standards stricter each time. 

The COVID-19 pandemic also brought IAQ Monitoring to the front stage as its crucial in minimizing viral transmission in public areas. As well as enforcing behavioral changes, building managers also need to leverage strategies to optimize the performance of buildings in order to give their tenants enough confidence to return to workspaces safely after lockdown. The IAQ Monitoring solution focuses on reducing the transmission of aerosols, and in consequence, the viruses comprehended in them, by monitoring the number of particles floating in the air and sending alerts when the room should be ventilated to avoid risk situations of transmission. 

Solutions like the Proximity Detection & Contact Tracing Starter Kit help with the installment of social distancing policies and avoids temporary shutdowns due to infection clusters thanks to its ability to trace back contact between workers. 

This solution, which has already been incorporated in many workspaces like Olympus’Orange Business Services’ or Zoetis’, among others,  ensures that people are keeping a safe distance between each other, reducing virus interactions, avoids temporary shutdowns of operating workspaces through enhanced safety measures, and allows to track all the interactions between infected and healthy people to identify contamination clusters, allowing to know exactly which workers should be isolated and which can continue working normally in their workspace. 


An increasing broad offer 

Smart Building offers don’t cease to grow, with new solutions coming out monthly, the opportunities to create a completely connected building can be endless, allowing building management companies to connect a countless battery-powered “things” to proof their buildings with the latest cutting edge technology, making them as exclusive and comfortable as they can be. 

In this blog, we have just presented a few examples which are already helping to secure and increase many buildings’ profits around the globe. At Actility we keep a constant track of all the latest solutions related to this vertical, while including the best ones in our ThingPark Market offer, to make it easy to access cutting-edge solutions that will efficiently help in any use case. 

Stay tuned for our next blog as we will continue working on offering the latest news and market updates on everything related to LoRaWAN.