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The road to smarter buildings & facilities management with IoT  

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Inflation, energy costs and the cost of living are increasingly causing challenges for businesses and consumers. This is resulting in higher operational costs for organisations to not only manage, but run their facilities – placing pressure on facility managers’ shoulders to operate their sites more cost effectively and productively. In addition, the industry faces labour and skills shortages, which are causing operational challenges for many teams.

That in mind, what should facility managers consider as they strive to cope with these pressures? Moreover, what is the role of people alongside technology in managing facilities during 2023 – especially as buildings become smarter, digital transformation continues to thrive, and IoT becomes affordable? Chris Potts, Marketing Director, ANT Telecom discusses how IoT monitoring can support smarter and more effective facilities management…

The role of people and technology
One of the problems many facilities managers come up against in managing their sites is that they lack the time, resources and information required to do so. With the many sites and the many systems required to keep a building functioning, facilities managers are up against it as they travel from site to site, or from one part of a property to another, to check the status of their facilities.

This often comprises assessing if facilities are safe and secure, and that occupants are happy in the environment that they operate in. Factors that many facilities managers are often checking include room temperatures; whether there is enough good lighting (especially for those that are not near a window); and they are increasingly focusing on ensuring areas are properly ventilated in efforts to ensure that premises do not become too stuffy or difficult to concentrate in, promoting productivity.

So, they are continuously monitoring whether critical systems, such as Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, are in good working condition – as we all know, it can very disruptive on hot or cold days if these systems fail, because they can make conditions difficult to work in. Further, facilities managers face the constant battle of providing people accessing a space an optimum room temperature – one colleague wants a warmer office, another complains that it’s too cold. What is the best way to control this without true knowledge about the state of play?

The challenge here is that facilities managers often do not  have reliable, intelligent data to draw on to help manage room or site temperatures. It’s very difficult to know what the current temperature of a room is unless they’re continually checked, which is very time consuming. It’s also impractical to do this manually on a daily basis, when facilities management teams are already stretched and responsible for multiple sites and systems. However, despite the time and effort required to do this, it’s quite a common process in many industries to monitor HVAC, environments and equipment manually.

Manual processes, ripe for improvement

Take the food and hospitality sector as another example. Staff often manually monitor and record the temperature of fridges/freezers regularly throughout the day to ensure appliances are working correctly and that food remains fresh and good to eat. Similarly, in hospitals, care homes and hotels staff are typically tasked twice weekly to systematically flush all water outlets (e.g. taps and showers) to measure water temperature, and to record all activity to control the risk of legionella growth.

Organisations are also trying to tackle high energy costs by cutting appropriate usage where possible.  This involves turning lights and heating off, in many cases, when staff leave premises; or using high powered equipment only when necessary; or replacing old appliances with more energy efficient models. But, who is responsible for checking that lights are, indeed, off – something normally done manually, and what about the other systems and appliances used?

All these manual, resource intensive processes are ripe for improvement. However, without the ability to measure key parameters across these scenarios, it’s difficult to know if any new procedures or processes implemented will address the issues raised, and if they are working effectively or not.

IoT sensors provide insight centrally

This is where IoT sensors can help. Installed in key locations, they offer site managers the capabilities to monitor equipment and key parts of a particular building, site or facility centrally.  Sensors can be installed in any number of scenarios too these days to automate and monitor all sorts of equipment and conditions such as room temperature, CO2, lighting and energy.

Further, with no cables to worry about, installing a sensor today is easy, as it only takes a few minutes. Batteries within sensors typically last 3- 5 years too, depending on data transmission rates, meaning they require very little maintenance.

Once data has been collected from sensors it is uploaded to a secure online portal where registered users, like facilities managers, can access and review at any time from any PC, Laptop or Smartphone. Thresholds across key metrics can be set to notify key individuals when levels have been breached, and floor plans can be loaded so that facilities managers can visually see where sensors are located. What is more, it is possible to document causes for threshold breaches to discover trends, and generate paperless reports that can be automatically shared with appropriate colleagues or fulfil compliance obligations.

Essentially, this data provides valuable insights, enabling teams to implement measures that improve site operations, monitor equipment or track equipment issues, in efforts to reduce energy, waste and save money.


Today facilities managers are expected to spread themselves across many sites in efforts to improve site operations. This is not physically possible all the time, and is immensely time consuming, resource intensive and impractical in certain occasions.

As the capabilities of the IoT sensor market improves, facilities managers can harness this technology to reduce the burden for themselves, and their respective teams, to automate the checking, monitoring and management of some sites, environments, facilities and equipment. This will enable teams to spend their time on other meaningful tasks more productively.

What is more, since this technology has reached a state of affordability, it can be implemented incrementally in stages, in such a way that allows teams to start with small trial projects, before developing more sophisticated monitoring strategies, with a view to ultimately providing organisations with the much needed knowledge required to improve operations.

Office building performance review identifies 108k euro in annual energy savings

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Consultants from climate tech firm IES and Savills have tamed up to achieve projected annual energy costs savings of up to €108,000 and carbon savings of up to 302 tonnes of CO2 per year.

IES was commissioned by the commercial and residential property company to optimise the operational performance of a 14,000m2 office building in George’s Quay, Dublin.

IES Consulting used a monitoring-based commissioning approach and its proprietary iSCAN data analytics platform to improve energy efficiency through the correct operation of the building’s systems, which had previously been upgraded as part of a retrofit project in 2017.

The design strategy for the retrofit targeted several aims, including achieving LEED Platinum and BER A3 ratings, and reducing energy costs by 30% compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2007. The building was equipped with new energyefficient lighting and controls, weather compensation controls for heating, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, and a new mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery.

However, Savills was keen to verify that the desired energy performance was being achieved once the building was in use, with the performance gap between the design intent and actual operational performance of buildings a common issue.

While, by general standards, the building appeared to be performing well, particularly when compared against industry benchmarks such as CIBSE Guide F and TM46, a detailed review of the building’s utilities data and building management systems (BMS) revealed several areas for significant performance improvements.

For example, in one block of the building, it was discovered that the return water temperature set-point on the boilers was too high, meaning that some boilers were running when outside temperatures were relatively moderate. By implementing a quick change to the control set-point in the BMS, Savills was able to start making instant savings.

A review of the data from the outdoor air temperature sensors identified that some of these sensors were receiving direct sunlight which was causing issues with the LPHW temperature set-points, which led to the installation of a weather shield to reduce the exposure to direct sunlight and any potential negative impacts on building operation.

Air handling units, which ensure adequate fresh air is supplied to protect the wellbeing of occupants, are often one of the largest energy consumers in office buildings. With the building occupancy reduced due to the increase in remote working after COVID, IES was able to recommend adjustments that could be made via the BMS to safely reduce overall airflow in line with the number of occupants.

Within just two weeks of operational changes being implemented in early 2021, energy reductions of up to 69% were observed, although some of these savings could be attributed in part to COVID lockdowns.

The electrical usage data for the Landlord meters indicated projected annual savings of up to €94,833 and 143.54 tonnes of CO2 per year. Meanwhile, a decrease in gas usage is predicted to result in additional projected annual savings of up to €13,796 and 159.4 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Brendan Doyle, facilities manager at Savills, commented: “Working with IES on this project has allowed us to get a much better handle on our building data, helping us understand exactly how the building is operating and where we can make improvements. By making some simple operational adjustments advised by the IES team, we have already seen significant savings in both energy costs and CO2 emissions, and we hope to continue working together to further optimise the building’s performance and ensure that these savings are sustained.”

Francis Sheridan, commissioning team manager at IES, said: “Our work with Savills at George’s Quay highlights the financial impact that the performance gap can have. Savills had already done some great work to improve the energy efficiency of the building, but with a few relatively simple tweaks we were still able to deliver significant cost and carbon savings.

“To ensure the continued efficient operation of the building, and to reduce the risk of operational drift as occupancy levels change, particularly post-COVID, we have advised a six-monthly review of the building services systems and energy data.

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is now more important than ever in light of the energy crisis, and savings such as these could make a real difference to business viability in the coming months.”