5 Steps to Successful Smart Building Automation

More efficient lighting and climate control is one of several cost-saving benefits a smart building can offer your customers.

5 Steps to Successful Smart Building Automation

Smart buildings are on the rise around the world as companies recognize the potential cost savings of automation.

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), every building with an integrated security and access control system has the capability to also integrate the building’s energy use, water use, ventilation and more.

Here are five steps to ensure successful automation of a commercial facility.

Step 1: Perform a detailed cost analysis

The first step is to show your customers the potential savings by conducting a thorough cost analysis. When surveying, you should look at everything from air handlers and chillers, to irrigation and what types of lighting are currently in place.

Be sure to also include details like switching to LED lighting, and updating compressors and chillers, and show the total potential cost savings. Buildings waste a lot of energy.

Simply propping a door open can cause the automation system to go into overdrive, pumping out air and creating significant energy waste. The ROI on building automation can sometimes free up money for other projects, while enhancing technology, comfort and security.

Step 2: Build relationships

There’s an ongoing shift in the decision-making authority from facility managers to the IT leadership. This can be problematic, as many CIOs are unfamiliar with the challenges of maintaining a facility’s physical security.

Facility managers can be equally frustrated by unfamiliar IoT technology. Helping to create or improve the relationship between the CIO and the facility manager is crucial.

Educating the CIO about physical security, and bridging the knowledge gaps for the facility manager with smart device technologies will be essential as the industry moves to a more IoT-centric mindset. Providers and integrators should present themselves as a coordination point.

Step 3: Foster communication

As with any new technology, there will be those who are hesitant to embrace the change. For instance, the IT director may have concerns about putting all their eggs in one software basket.

When a building is fully automated and networked, a failure in one area can cause failure in others. There may also be network bandwidth limitations that will have to be addressed to handle the amount of data that will be collected and shared between the various components of an automated system.

Concerns can usually be alleviated through detailed communication and concrete information about how the building’s systems can live side-by-side and how integration can benefit the customer in the long run.

The most important thing is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to voice those concerns at the beginning.

Step 4: Use open source solutions

To ensure the long-term success of a project, it’s crucial that the technology specified is future-forward and will flex and grow as the institution does.

The transition to new technology is never seamless, but there are solutions that can simplify the process. Look for systems and devices that are “open source” in nature; meaning, they can work together or can be easily integrated with each other.

Choosing proprietary versus open systems and devices could limit overall functionality and long-term adaptability.

Step 5: Make buildings smarter one step at a time

Transitioning to a fully optimized smart building may seem overwhelming at first. It can be helpful to outline a series of goals with timeline milestones set.

60 days: Set goals for improving efficiency. Compare energy costs across multiple locations to establish a baseline of use and areas of loss/waste.

Six months: Use the data from your test location to establish an initial ROI and look for areas to further improve.

12 months: Track energy use at all locations to measure energy savings and establish overall ROI.

24 months: Develop a long-term plan for energy savings, including how to integrate new facilities into the overall solution. Experienced players in the security space understand there are no shortcuts.

The adoption of IoT technologies and tools will initially grow at the pace at which industry experts can support it. Wait too long and the space will be disrupted by external forces driven by consumer demand.

Minu Youngkin is Marketing Manager at Allegion.

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