Last week, I had the opportunity to join Darrell Smith, Director of Facilities and Energy at Microsoft and and Jim Young, Founder and CEO of Realcomm Conference for a virtual round table discussion hosted by IDC Energy Ingisghts of the real world implications of adopting smart building solutions and what the potential implications to yoru business can be by deploying smart technology.
Our conversation focused on next generation energy management solutions. These smart building technologies are characterized by IT architecture and enable advanced integration and automation of control over energy consuming and producing assets in a facility from heating and air conditioning to plug loads. Two big themes resonated on the hour long webcast: the understated value of operational efficiency and the evolution of facilities management processes significantly shape the business case for smart building solution investment.
First, smart building solutions generate the often understated and overlooked business value of operational efficiency. When we talk about smart building solutions, energy efficiency improvements are often the first and dominating focus of the conversation due to the direct and quantifiable business impact of the reduction in kWh from streamlining HVAC or lighting systems for example. This makes sense because we can tie a clear and impactful economic measure to the benefit of the technology deployment when we look at the project costs and benefits through utility bill savings. The operational benefits, on the other hand, sometimes referred to as soft benefits, can generate just as significant business value by shifting management processes from reactive to proactive. Smart building technologies enable real time equipment optimization through fault detection and diagnostics to predictive maintenance. This means operators can more effectively deploy their staff resources and maintain equipment in new ways to avoid or reduce capital expenditures. The business value of this new level of operational efficiency is magnified when you think about a mobile staff servicing a campus or portfolio of buildings.
We also talked about how these new solutions impact business from a process perspective, and as Jim put it, advocating smart building solutions is a “change management business.” Smart building technologies change the conversation in facilities management as these IT enabled solutions drive facilities management with data. As Darrell explained on a large campus like Microsoft’s Redmond campus, building systems across facilities were disparate and it was historically impossible to get one unified comprehensive view of equipment operations. With the deployment of smart building technologies today, it is possible to proactively manage and prioritize maintenance and operations. I discussed that the technology available today overcomes the integration challenge of disparate systems and software algorithms can analyze thousands of data points to drive real time action. The change management is successful when you have a smart building champion that helps overcome the status quo by effectively communicating the efficiencies these new technologies bring to make the operators’ jobs easier and help the C-suite boost the bottom line. This is about changing the process of facilities maintenance to utilize information technology and advanced, automated controls for new levels of efficiency.
The themes from the conference will be further explored this June in Orlando at Realcomm’s 2013 IBcon conference, Embracing the Real Estate Technology REvolution – REdefining REal Estate Operations through Technology, Automation & Innovation, symbolizes the tremendous speed with which technology is permeating every department and major process in today’s real estate organization. This continued rate of adoption and redefinition of business processes will revolutionize the real estate operating model and dramatically redefine how commercial real estate will be owned, operated, and used for the next 100 years.