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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.

Employers ‘aren’t doing enough’ to reduce environmental impact of buildings

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New research reveals the impact the energy crisis is having on the UK workforce, as 70% of hybrid workers admit they’re concerned about the cost of working from home as bills skyrocket.

The survey of 2,000 UK workers by OnePoll, on behalf of UK smart building technology firm Infogrid, finds that worries over energy usage don’t just start and stop at home. There is also greater scrutiny from the workforce, especially younger generations, on how employers manage energy during this crisis, and an expectation that they should be actively driving change for the future.

More than half (55%) of the UK’s hybrid workers are concerned about how energy efficient their workplace is, so much so that they want to take measures into their own hands to cap usage. Over a quarter (27%) say they would take personal action including turning off lights and monitor screens to reduce the amount of energy wasted in their buildings. Those aged 18-34 feel the most passionate about how much energy their workplace is using, with these figures rising five points to 62% and 32%, respectively.

Data from Infogrid’s own AI-powered platform, which uses sensors to capture and analyse when people are in the workplace, shines a light on the trends that businesses will need to react to, as a result of these energy efficiency concerns. In the UK, for example, recent workplace occupancy on Thursdays is double that of Fridays.

However, looking at this year over year, there is a steady decline, with average occupancy on a Thursday trending down by 80% compared to last September. Employees are also turning their backs on starting the week in their workplace, with Tuesday now the most popular day to be in and seeing 59% more occupancy compared to Monday.

OnePoll’s survey suggests that current workplace occupancy trends could change further as we head towards Christmas and colder months, with nearly one in four (23%) hybrid workers planning to increase the frequency they head into their workplaces this winter to keep personal costs low, rising to 30% amongst 18-34 year olds.

Commenting on the findings, Ross Sheil, Senior Vice President at Infogrid, said: “If you want to tackle a problem, you must first understand what you’re dealing with. Both the OnePoll findings and our own data show us that external factors, such as the energy crisis and its effect on people’s personal financial situations, have a very real impact on how employees use their workspaces. Energy prices skyrocketing will mean that some of us will spend more time in the workplace to keep costs at home down, while others will work from home more often, because commuting costs are also on the rise. And with more than half of employees showing concern about the efficiency and sustainability of their work environments, it’s never been more important to have real-time insight into how spaces are being used, in order to tailor energy management accordingly.”

Employees call on workplaces to be more sustainable – younger generations, even more so

Indeed, the OnePoll research reveals that employees have high expectations when it comes to the sustainability efforts and credentials of their employers. Two in five (41%) don’t believe their companies are doing enough when it comes to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of buildings, even if they are taking action. This rises to 50% amongst younger generations (18-34).

When asked about whose job it is to address these environmental concerns, 25% of UK workers believe those who manage or run a building are primarily responsible for helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by them, ranking above others such as governments (20%), building landlords (20%) and building occupants (15%). One in four hybrid workers would like to see their company invest in more digital tools and technology to help make their workplace more energy efficient, increasing again amongst 18-34 year olds to 29%.

Sheil continued: “The current energy crisis should be a catalyst for businesses to strive towards a more sustainable future and protect the planet, because employees expect it, and also, for their own financial performance to prevent money being poured down the drain from poor energy efficiency. We can’t tear down and rebuild – the greenest building is an existing building. Instead we need to retrofit our workplaces with smart technology, such as IoT, AI and insights drawn from real-time data to revolutionise the way we manage energy. Now is the time for building managers to drive long-lasting change through all that digital has to offer.”

Justine Bornstein, Research Director for Smart Building Technologies at analyst house Verdantix, added: “Investment into energy efficiency has already been gaining momentum thanks to the EU’s Clean Energy for all Europeans Package in 2018. The current energy crisis has certainly catapulted it back into mainstream conversation, and we expect this to continue well into the future, with digital technologies a key enabler. These are growing by more than 33% per year, according to the IEA, and soon the stock of connected appliances, devices and sensors will overtake the number of people on the planet. The energy efficiency sector is experiencing a major growth period that shows little signs of slowing down.”

Integrating Smart Building Technology

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Buyer beware – the marketplace for building automation, smart building, and building technology is evolving quickly and is full of new technologies, complicated integration and snazzy buzzwords.

It is so important to understand the benefits to be achieved from making a building ‘smart’, and to define what this actually means to you, the building occupier, the property manager and maintenance team? 

In short, data acquisition is a useless exercise unless you know how to read, manipulate and formulate efficiency or improvement actions from the data presented; whilst also understanding the key benefits of smart building upgrades that you’re trying to harness.

When optimally deployed, smart buildings technologies have the potential to deliver productivity and wellbeing improvements at the lowest cost and with the lowest possible environmental impact over the building lifecycle. This requires adding intelligence through a building’s useful life. There are potentially numerous systems and subsystems which can be integrated, and these have typically operated independently in the past, so in a smart environment these systems can share information to optimise total building performance. 

However, this must also be backed up by human intelligence to really understand the interactions and available opportunities for efficiency.  

Collaboration with building occupants, control specialists, building M&E maintainers combined with an understanding of human behavioural operation patterns, is paramount and all parties should be clear of their obligation to maintain or improve operational standards.

This is the psychology that we at ETS are applying with forward thinking national and international brands to install hardware and software that satisfy the clients need for visibility, control and reporting of a building and wider portfolio’s operation. 

We are employing an empowering approach to building technology which enables individual building systems to be connected and integrated. Most buildings already have some level of intelligence built in, whether HVAC, lighting, or fire safety. We are technology agnostic, and work with various manufacturers’ equipment dependent upon the client’s requirements, budget and what they want to achieve from the data outputs. Consequently, at ETS we are pushing to achieve more from building data and ultimately make better decisions.

A well-designed smart solution at any stage of a building’s life can make a property more attractive to buyers, a better letting option for tenants and occupiers, through greatly reduced cost and carbon emission, being more efficient to operate and maintain, and alignment with broader CSR agendas.

How can ETS help?

With a dedicated Smart Buildings and Automation team, ETS have the depth of knowledge and expertise to design, specify and integrate new Smart Buildings technologies into your properties, whilst also ensuring that you are getting the very best from the systems you already have in place. 

For more information please see

To discuss your requirements, get in touch. You can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at    

SSE focuses on Cleaner air for UK & Irish buildings with ionair

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SSE Enterprise’s distributed energy business is targeting improved internal air quality in mechanically ventilated buildings with the help of a proven technology that utilises the principle of bipolar ionisation. 

Independent studies have highlighted that bipolar ionisation can markedly decrease the concentration of contaminants in indoor air, lowering the risk of respiratory infections and creating a far healthier breathing experience.

As we enter a difficult winter period and economies are looking forward to a post-pandemic recovery, SSE says the need to reassure workers of a safer working environment is crucial, particularly at a time when flu outbreaks may become common. 

SSE Enterprise’s distributed energy business has secured an exclusivity deal covering the UK and Ireland to sell and install the product range offered by Swiss company, ionair, into buildings, such as offices, airports, shopping malls, care homes, hotels, sports facilities and more. 

Poor internal air quality (IAQ) is strongly correlated with low productivity, allergies and general illness. More seriously, chronic exposure to airborne pollutants is linked to respiratory diseases like flu, asthma and lung cancer. Furthermore, evidence is emerging that persistently low air quality is associated with increased risk of dementia. 

Kostas Papadopoulos, Head of Smart Cities Solutions Development at SSE Enterprise, said: “We have decided to back this tried and tested technology, working with a high quality manufacturer, not only because we truly believe that it is superior to all other air purification options currently on offer, but also because the pilot installation in one of our offices in England has demonstrated a dramatic improvement across several air quality metrics.”

“We are approaching that time of year where coughs and colds begin to surface, so we want to help our customers reduce the risk of infection in their buildings. It is important that any return to work is as safe as possible. We want this technology to provide reassurance to businesses and their employees that they are working in a healthier indoor environment, known to improve well-being, productivity and comfort.”

ionair’s air quality system has shown to reduce odours by around 50%, germs, bacteria, fungi and pollen by more than 95%, fine particles by 30% to 50%, and several other airborne pathogens by more than 90%. 

It can be retrofitted into a building’s existing air handling unit, continuously monitoring and improving air quality. SSE says it is also cost-effective, requiring very low maintenance. Complementing SSE’s Mayflower Smart City Platform, SSE can offer a fully funded solution which can combine significant air quality improvements with a suite of smart building options.