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Making building sustainability a reality

The potential to save considerable amounts of energy and make the built environment more sustainable is much touted as one of the key benefits of digitising buildings. However, it’s not yet entirely clear that this potential is being realised.

If you only listened to the IoT hype and the huge increases in the variety of sensors and other end point devices being added to the ecosystem, you might assume that everything is ticking along nicely. But the existence of these end point devices is only part of the picture.

As a recent piece by the CEO of DevicePilot highlights: “Many connected device service providers haven’t been able to deliver the promised levels of service quality, which ultimately means that customers have been short-changed and the sustainability benefits of IoT have not been realised”.

And he’s absolutely right. Deploying some piecemeal IoT sensors cannot deliver the unified services and co-ordination that is required to increase the efficiency of buildings.

The reality of delivering sustainability

On the one hand, the IoT can only be as good as the software tools and control layers that are put in place to collate data and draw meaningful insights from it. On the other hand, there is also a far more essential issue that needs to be addressed.

It boils down to a simple fact – you can’t deliver on the energy saving, health and well-being potential of ‘smart buildings’ if you don’t have the right connectivity and network infrastructure in place.

Finding efficiencies in standalone systems only takes you so far. As we’ve written previously, digital buildings need to have the fundamental building blocks in place to make data-enabled building automation possible.

We need to look to consolidate disparate IP networks into an integrated service network that is the backbone of modern digital buildings. It is only the network that can provide the platform to manage the extended ecosystem of devices required to monitor every aspect of a building and collate this data centrally to support sophisticated performance and service monitoring tools.

You need to have the full ‘stack’ of technology to enable the meaningful gains in sustainable practices – energy saving, health and well-being – that business owners and facilities managers want.

Beyond the install

In addition, it’s not just about getting the fundamentals in place. Beyond the install there is also a longer-term operational challenge that building operators have to grapple with.

What happens when an issue occurs, or a device fails? Quite literally, who are you going to call? Building networks cut across a huge range of devices and systems – and too often, building managers rely on a host of specialist contractors to deal with each separate system in isolation.

But this approach is ripe for mistakes or communication problems resulting in unintended errors. When everything is built on one central platform, to really take advantage to the opportunities on offer, you really need engineers that understand the whole picture and how each individual system fits into and interacts with the whole.

Hype won’t cut it anymore

LMG believes this level of continuity is crucial in ensuring that sustainability gains are delivered consistently across the entire lifecycle of buildings – with minimal disruption and downtime.

We have invested in the technology, the skills and the team to make this a reality. We don’t need more IoT hype. We need practical solutions that make it easy to deliver on the promise of digital buildings.