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BOMA NEWS - February 21, 2024

Can Smart Sensors Drive Sustainable Initiatives?

By Mike Parker

Building managers, operators and sustainability professionals across the commercial real estate industry are starting to understand the symbiotic relationship that smart building certifications have with driving sustainability initiatives. Smart sensors and the ability to interpret significant data points are crucial. If used correctly, this data can identify trends, anomalies, and patterns in resource usage, helping make informed decisions to optimize sustainability efforts. This article will examine key areas where smart tech sensors can drive sustainability initiatives.

Smart sensors have the ability to provide real-time monitoring of energy consumption, water usage, indoor air quality, occupancy patterns, and more. This data allows the building operations team to monitor resource usage and identify inefficiencies immediately, enabling them to take prompt corrective actions. This data can then be used to benchmark against industry standards or other buildings within a portfolio. The reports generated can speak to sustainability initiatives already in place or support new initiatives being recommended.

Predictive maintenance is another area where smart sensors excel. Sensor data can be used to predict maintenance needs for various building systems, reducing downtime and ensuring the efficient operation of equipment. Rather than replacing all the filters on a schedule, only the filters that have reached manufacturers’ specs will be replaced, which means reduced costs and less unnecessary waste in the landfill.

With the expectation that government regulations will only become stricter, reporting becomes more of a challenge. Data from smart sensors can be used to demonstrate compliance, making the entire process less onerous and more transparent.

One of the biggest challenges for building owners and managers is engaging tenants in sustainability initiatives and getting them on board. The building team can now share reports to raise awareness about good and bad resource usage. This data can be used to tell the building’s sustainability story. Tenants can use this story to further support their company’s sustainability objectives.

Smart sensors can also make tenants’ lives happier and their teams more productive. Indoor air quality sensors can provide data on air quality in real time. This will allow to implement measures to ensure a healthy and comfortable indoor environment, which is essential for sustainability and occupant well-being. Data from occupancy sensors can help the building operations team to optimize space usage. By understanding when and how spaces are used, they can adjust lighting, heating, and cooling to match actual demand, reducing wastage. All of this makes tenants more comfortable in the spaces they occupy.

From an energy and carbon perspective, the data from smart sensors on electricity and HVAC system usage allows the building operations team to understand peak consumption times and make adjustments to reduce energy usage during high-demand periods. With this data, they can calculate and reduce their carbon footprint by tracking energy consumption and resource usage. All of this can be used to predict cost savings and how to reach carbon reduction goals more effectively.

While smart technology is evolving at an ever-increasing pace, a smart building certification can give building managers, operators and sustainability professionals the tools to support and enhance their sustainable initiatives. It also provides valuable insights, optimizes resource usage, and supports informed decision-making to reduce environmental impact and operational costs.