Although, there are varying opinions about the strategies building owners and managers should employ to recover from the effects of the pandemic, its structural effects, and resulting economic disruption, “business as usual” shouldn’t be part of the plan.
By Manish Kumar, Senior Vice-President of the Building Management line of business at Schneider Electric.
There has been a sea change in occupant expectations regarding indoor air quality (IAQ), and facilities should take measures to create a safe interior environment. While on the operational front, commercial, institutional, and medical facilities face tighter budgets and a shortage of staff with up-to-date skills in today’s complex building systems. Factoring in the necessity to comply with increasingly stringent regulations while simultaneously improving building energy performance and hitting more aggressive sustainability targets, its clear decision-makers shouldn’t count on conditions relaxing into a “new normal” any time soon.
The faster organizations can take measures to expand their proactive maintenance programs to drive down operating costs, ensure better remote access, and create tenant-centric facilities by leveraging digitally-enabled services, the more they can differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market. Forward-thinking leaders understand that crafting buildings of the future involves making smart decisions today.
Unlocking building performance through smart, connected technology
The business case for boosting building efficiency has long been established, and today’s advanced digital technology can bring new levels of transparency and control to facility operations. Studies have repeatedly validated that successful efficiency initiatives increase building asset values, reduce operating costs, and boost occupant satisfaction. Cutting-edge maintenance services are increasingly proactive, remote, and automated, yet most facilities’ plans are still reactive.
For HVAC systems, reports reveal that:
- More than 55% of maintenance tasks are not condition-based.
- 40% of occupants are unsatisfied with their comfort levels.
- Over 80% of equipment fails prematurely, resulting in substantial avoidable costs.
To have a real impact on operating costs, occupant comfort, and asset value, today’s building systems need to perform optimally and with minimal budget and maintenance resources. Schneider Electric and its EcoStruxure Building Advisor is a FacilitiesNet 2021 Award Winner for those reasons and more.
EcoStruxure Building Advisor is a remarkably versatile and proven suite of analytics-driven services that leverages best-in-class Digital Twin technology. It can be deployed at a single site or benchmark performance across a global portfolio of properties, regardless of the building management system. Over the last three years, the advanced cloud-based platform has continuously optimized systems in multiple building classes, with data points analyzed from over 200,000 HVAC equipment. It has helped organizations achieve at least $20M in energy savings, automated over 250,000 hours of maintenance tasks, and identified 25,000 IAQ-related equipment issues.
High-performance buildings are efficient, sustainable, and productive
EcoStruxure Building Advisor’s advanced capabilities deliver enhanced building performance and tenant peace of mind benefits in four ways:
- Hyper efficient – maximize performance by optimizing systems and workflows:
- Diagnose HVAC issues that contribute to excess energy usage and avoidable costs.
- Leverage automation to service a more extensive portfolio, doing more with the same service team.
- Reduce time and effort; improve troubleshooting accuracy using a digital twin for automated fault detection (FDD) and diagnosis of complex HVAC systems.
- Resilient – quicker recovery from disruptions:
- Manage sites remotely with a team of experts, avoid costly in-person visits, and improve response times.
- Prevent critical asset failure and disruptions with condition-based monitoring and diagnosis.
- Manage critical alarms, provide triage, and avoid disruptions.
- Sustainable – consume less, extend asset life, and invest strategically:
- Actively manage energy efficiency initiatives and evaluate progress to sustainability goals.
- Extend the useful life of assets and protect capital investments.
- Benchmark performance from similar sites and rationalize modernization.
- People-centric – provide a comfortable, productive, and healthy setting for occupants.
- Manage indoor air quality to deliver comfortable environments.
- Empower diverse facility teams to make the right decisions for their departments.
- Reduce on-site engineers by using remote experts.
Users have seen substantial payback from EcoStruxure Building Advisor’s hybrid model of local expertise and globally delivered remote services. Examples include:
- A large, globe-spanning bio-sciences organization with 85 buildings wanted to increase operational efficiencies and realized over $4.5m in energy-saving and maintenance cost avoidance in just over 4 years.
- A tier-1 American university with 6.7 M sq. ft across 49 buildings was able to reduce waste, system failures, unscheduled maintenance, and occupant complaints, in addition to saving $900k in energy costs the first year alone.
Shifting to digital technologies and a remote services model delivers tangible benefits.
As much as the pandemic spurred more rapid adoption of remote work and digital access to services, it’s become clear that the trend is here to stay. Achieving sustainability, hyper-efficiency, and active IAQ management while ensuring quick problem response and streamlining maintenance with smaller teams is impossible without solutions like EcoStruxure Building Advisor. Best-in-class companies know this and are increasingly leveraging digital services to transform building data into actionable insights. So accepted is this trend that a new standard has been added to the ICC IECC-21 building code that mandates FDD technology for sites over 100k sq. ft.
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