Smart building technology promises an array of benefits for facility managers. But justifying the investment in these new technologies can be challenging, especially since many of the benefits are difficult to quantify. A good way to make the transition to smart buildings is to “walk into it,” says Bill Jackson, president, global products, building technologies & solutions, Johnson Controls.
A good first step is to connect some critical pieces of equipment so that their performance can be analyzed and data can be used to achieve benefits like avoiding downtime and moving from reactive to preventive maintenance. That first step can give facility managers an opportunity to understand the paybacks of smart buildings. “Facility managers should find a partner and start trying things,” Jackson says.
A second step, he says, is to create a dashboard that pulls together a variety of data related to priorities like energy use. The dashboard should provide decision support to facility managers. The key is designing the dashboard to deliver actionable information.
Smart buildings add value in four big ways, says Jackson: cutting energy costs, saving on maintenance expenses, improving knowledge of space utilization, and enabling the organization to achieve its mission. A third step on the path to smart buildings is to identify the biggest issues facing the organization and look for ways that a smarter building can help tackle those challenges — for example, with a sensing network that gathers information to help solve key problems.
Data — from across an array of building systems — is at the heart of smart buildings. That’s why it’s important for the facility manager to develop a vision for the network of connections that will be developed within a building. Creating that vision is the fourth step on the transition to smart buildings. The building should be on a path that will enable it to support those connect, interoperable sensing networks.
“Facility managers need a vision of the future to ensure the right network is in place,” Jackson says.
A growing number of facilities is reaping the benefits of smart building technology. It’s up to the facility manager to lead the way. In the transition to smart buildings, Jackson says, “the role of the facility manager is huge.”
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