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The growing power of IoT in building sustainability

Applications of IoT helps in building sustainability

Discover the transformative power of IoT technology and its applications in building sustainability. The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the places we do business, making buildings smarter, safer, and more sustainable. With a fast-growing role in achieving net zero targets, IoT offers businesses remarkable opportunities to optimize time, save costs, and utilize resources efficiently. In this blog, we will delve into the wide-ranging applications of IoT in building sustainability. And, exploring how it empowers businesses with data-driven insights for better resource management and environmental impact reduction.

The Internet of Things (IoT), is about to revolutionise the places we do business, as buildings become smarter, safer and more sustainable. Businesses looking to save time, money, and resources will experience a dramatic effect. And it has a fast-growing role in building sustainability, a critical movement supporting net zero targets worldwide.

The fact is, the Internet of Things is already all around us. One definition states it is “the interconnection via the internet of electronic devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data”. Have you got a smartwatch? The IoT connects you to 100 apps. Forget to pay your toll on the motorway? The IoT will remind you, in the form of a swiftly delivered fine. Be it smart fridges, smart heating controls or smart security systems. IoT technology is all around us in the home, and now it’s coming to a commercial building near you.

The Role of IoT in Driving Data-Driven Sustainability in Buildings

Several factors drive this revolution, including the growing realization that smart buildings contribute to enhanced sustainability in a time when sustainability rightfully permeates every aspect of our lives. But the principal driving factor is a requirement for data and accurate reporting across a series of evolving operations.

For years, people have been gathering data for building sustainability certification from organisations such as RESET, GRESB, BREEAM and LEED. A man with a clipboard often gathers the data – a slow, manual process that delivers stale data, is prone to inaccuracy, and is a practice that itself contributes to the carbon footprint. Applications of IoT give building managers the power to get real-time information on, say, electricity usage, and 360-degree visibility on how much was used, by who and when, down to a single meter.

Also in the mix today are Carbon Reporting mechanisms, across Scope 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 emissions relate to emissions coming directly from buildings, such as burning oil and gas. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions, primarily produced by electricity consumption. And Scope 3 emissions cover practically every other carbon emission produced in the course of doing business

ESG reporting is seeking data of a building as they provide the basis for accurate and actionable ESG activity. ESG practitioners are widening the data requirements beyond energy, gas and water usage, to things such as indoor air quality.

So, for all these reasons, there’s a drive to extract quality data from every relevant source. Yes, we’ve been gathering building parameter data since the days of post rooms, file stores and Rolodexes, but we’ve been doing so manually, and inefficiently. Enter the Internet of Things and the whole new world of quality data.

Unlocking Quality Sustainability Data with IoT Applications

Quality sustainability data broadly fall under four key headings: it must be consistent, accessible, auditable and timely.

A reliable and constant stream of data is crucial to achieving consistency. Data must be readily accessible to the people who need it. For instance, EU Taxonomy law requires all data to be in ‘Machine Readable Format’. Regulatory requirements require that all data is auditable. And real-time data has major benefits over stale data in driving improved sustainability outcomes.

And thanks to the IoT applications, it is now possible to do all this and much more, in a far more cost-effective way than traditional data-gathering methods. Innovations in IoT have dramatically reduced the cost and increased the efficiency of getting data out of the basements of buildings, into the cloud, and into the right formats, achieving the best reports and insights for those concerned with building sustainability.

Four important factors when selecting IoT Systems

But be warned: As with any new field of technology, there’s been a flood of activity in recent years, with new firms mushrooming across the globe, offering a massive range of products and services to get data out of buildings, with great variations in quality, functionality and efficacy. Here are four important factors to consider when selecting your IoT systems.

  • Power consumption

Some technologies (e.g. mobile phone technology) are very power-hungry. And devices requiring mains power make installation difficult and expensive. Seek an ultra-low power device that operates on a long-life battery.

  • Connectivity

The technology needs to penetrate steel and concrete to access many meters and critical data collection points contained within basements or other concealed locations. Radio communication with deep indoor penetration is the best choice here.

  • Independent network

Given the sensitivity of data in most corporate workplaces today, the worst option here is an IoT solution that connects to your internal WiFi or network systems. Always seek IoT applications that dedicate themselves to an independent network, such as Sigfox or LoRa. This will keep any data transmission completely separate from your corporate systems and protect them from jamming and hacking.

  • Data storage

Finally – data storage is a critical consideration. Whether manually or digitally gathered, data stored locally in a building is of limited use. When gathered via IoT devices, and extracted to the cloud, it can be configured into tailored reports and sent to anyone who needs it at the click of a mouse. 

Real-Life IoT Applications and Insights

ZiggyTec can measure and monitor sustainability data covering indoor air quality, electricity, water and gas, desk occupancy, safety equipment such as defibrillators and water temperature in taps and pipes – a critical activity in Legionella control.

Consider these examples of the power of IoT in building sustainability.

ZiggyTec helped the company reduce HVAC power bills by 1.5 hours a day 

Client A – a large financial services company – was running a powerful HVAC at a significant, but worthwhile, cost, to keep staff safe in a well-ventilated environment at optimum temperatures. The building manager powered up the system at 6 am every morning, to ensure that the temperature and VOC levels were appropriate by the time staff arrived at 9 am. 

By running some tests using our indoor air quality monitoring service, they and discovered that powering up the system at 7:30 am could achieve the same good air quality, resulting in saving 1.5 hours of energy every day.

ZiggyTec helped identify and fix a major water leak in the building

Client B – a property manager at a real estate services company – detected a major leak within a building’s water system, through our Smart Utility Services. During a routine review of the ZiggyTec dashboard displaying the building’s water usage, it was noticed that high volumes of water were being consumed at the weekends – when the building was unoccupied.

The property manager investigated, found and fixed the leak, and confirmed its resolution through ongoing monitoring.

ZiggyTec helped the company optimise occupancy levels and keep staff safe and well 

Client C – a global financial services company – acted on a suggestion made by ZiggyTec’s customer care team, following a review of their monthly indoor air quality report. Every ZiggyTec indoor air quality client receives a monthly summary of air quality factors and issue notifications.

The ZiggyTec team observed high CO2 levels in a specific room at 2 pm and reported to the facilities manager. It turned out that this room was used for a 9 am call with the US headquarters. Facilities resolved the issue by managing occupancy levels during the call, creating a safe and healthy environment for all concerned.

These three brief examples represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of IoT capabilities in building sustainability today. The Internet surpassed basic email, websites, and search engines. IoT innovation will enhance building intelligence, safety, and sustainability. ZiggyTec is here to support you on your journey.

Get in touch with us today to explore how IoT can make your workplace smarter, safer, and more sustainable.

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