New occupant and stakeholder needs driving smart building specifications

According to a NAIOP real estate survey, today’s tech-savvy tenants expect smart building features when they select facility space. Over 90 percent rated connectivity as a major decision driver, 58 percent want facilities with smart capabilities — such as controlling lighting or room temperature, and 49 percent would like interactive mobile apps to access building services or navigate the property.

Hence, building landlords and employers are now seeking smart building technologies to meet these demands such as mobile apps that enable building workers to access building information, flexible workspace schedules, and other digital workplace services.

Consulting engineers can now use Division 25 specifications to deliver the smart building connectivity to support these technologies. But like many engineers, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need Division 25”, and “why now?” In this post, I will share some new key trends driving this demand.

The pandemic is changing value perceptions

Nearly half of U.S. employees are now working at home, and many are struggling with productivity as a result of COVID-19. At the same time, essential on-site workers are facing new safety and logistical challenges in order to mitigate safety risks, according to a recent Stanford research study.

According to a new CFE Media & Technology survey of nearly 200 U.S. design-build and consulting engineers, COVID-19 is creating more interest in smart building technologies. Nearly half of the respondents report they are currently involved in construction projects related to COVID-19.

Smart building technologies make up nearly 30 percent of these pandemic-era projects, and this number is expected to increase. In turn, the demand for smart technologies is driving projects such as:

  • Automation and controls – 43%
  • Electrical/power – 41%
  • Lighting – 34%
  • Energy efficiency – 29%
  • HVAC – 61%

Division 25 specifications can help engineers take the above projects out of their disciplinary silos, so they communicate with each other to increase overall building system efficiency. The convergence of mechanical, electrical, and other key building systems provides building stakeholders with the data they need to optimize comfort and safety for their in-office or home-based employees.

Safety is driving smart technologies

When employees feel safe, they are more productive. According to McKinsey & Company, fostering employee morale during a crisis such as a pandemic can have a significant impact on employee engagement. Plus, a safe, highly engaged workforce is likely to drive better business outcomes, such as increasing customer loyalty and profitability.

What’s more, an employer’s reputation may hinge on the perception of their ability to provide a safe working environment. Fortunately, a Division 25-specified smart building can help employers give the right impression of safety.

Smart building technologies provide safety benefits such as:

  • Contactless doors, coffee machines, bathrooms, and climate controls to prevent the spread of illness
  • Humidity, air circulation, and indoor air quality (IAQ) controls to increase safety and occupant well-being
  • Occupancy level monitoring in real-time to determine if desks, offices, and rooms are properly spaced
  • Capacity threshold settings for room, floor, or building levels to know when occupancy limits are exceeded
  • Occupant analytics measuring how employees use individual and collaborative spaces

These technologies can help build the employer’s brand with the perception that their building is smart enough for today’s modern, safety-conscious, and technologically savvy workforce.

Occupant well-being is considered smart building projects

Innovation drives new construction demand. But without occupancy demand, why should engineers innovate? Next to actual construction expenses, occupant well-being drives most of the costs for today’s smart building. In particular, workplace construction is now being specified to meet increasing demands from a younger generational workforce, including millennials, who are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

This new workforce demands the same smart comforts in the office that they have at home. There, they can tell “Alexa” to control room temperature, adjust the lighting, or close the window blinds. It is no surprise that they expect the same conveniences in the workplace.

Given the level of digital connectivity available in today’s smart building, building owners want to help employers and landlords meet these expectations. Take, for example, a smart building scenario made possible by connecting building management systems (BMS) with closed-circuit TV video monitoring (CCTV).

In this scenario, an employee pulls up to her office garage, where the CCTV recognizes her license plate and opens the garage door for her. As she pulls into the garage, the CCTV sends a signal to the BMS to adjust the climate control and lighting in her office, according to her set preferences. The BMS then sends a signal to the elevator, so she does not have to wait.

These seemingly minor, time-saving conveniences can increase the employee’s overall job satisfaction and productivity.

Division 25 is improving facility ROI

In addition to increasing perceived occupant value, smart building technologies provide the data building owners and facility managers need to make informed decisions about energy, costs, and labor. This data gives stakeholders a bird’s-eye view of how much electricity the HVAC is using, how much square footage employees are occupying, or when to cut back power to avoid a brownout.

Smart building analytics can help building owners and employers answer key questions, such as:

  • How can we address climate control, lighting, and other controls remotely to save costs when the building is not occupied?
  • What systems do we have in place to help employees quickly return to productivity after extended periods of remote work?
  • Do we have the infrastructure to keep occupants safe in the event of an emergency?

Delivering this type of data intelligence requires intelligent building management systems — known as iBMS. This building intelligence goes beyond traditional BMS to enable all the systems to communicate with each other, saving energy, reducing expenses, and improving building efficiency.

Division 25 gives engineers the platform they need to facilitate iBMS and integrate the appropriate system divisions to provide this value to their building stakeholders. By understanding Division 25 specifications, engineers can guide their customers to the right products and solutions to optimize their buildings and produce long-term benefits.

In “Improving Building Design with Division 25 Specifications,” an e-guide from Schneider Electric™, engineers can get answers to many common questions about Division 25, such as, “Where do I start?”

Get your free copy today and learn how you can use Division 25 to deliver the value your customers want today and in the future.

Download the guide.

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