The concern for health and wellness in the built environment has given rise to industry initiatives that target healthier and more productive interior spaces. Various holistic approaches have been proposed, which govern objective indicia such as air, light, sound, thermal comfort, etc., each of which are known to influence whether people will thrive in those surroundings.
Notably, monitoring and control of these additional objective indicia are far beyond the scope of traditional building infrastructures embodied in a Building Automation System (BAS) or Energy Monitoring System (EMS). This isn’t surprising, of course, because a BAS or EMS was designed to control infrastructure assets such as HVAC and lighting systems; they weren’t necessarily designed to protect the most important “assets,” building occupants.
The industry has changed. Good corporate citizens recognize the benefits of promoting health and wellness programs for their employees, not only as it correlates to employee productivity, but also as it reflects upon their corporate reputation in the marketplace. It is impossible to ignore this shift in perceived and expected corporate responsibility.
Building certification programs such as WELL have risen in prominence not simply due to archaic measures such as ROI, but on a value system centered upon human health and wellness.
Updating Obsolete Building Systems
The value system within the built environment is changing; the archaic systems contained therein must similarly evolve. As already noted, a BAS or EMS was not designed to focus on those objective indicia known to impact health and wellness of building occupants.
Look around. Here is a quick sample test for you to evaluate the efficacy of the current technology infrastructure in your built environment:
- Do you know what the CO2 level is in your workspace or conference room?
- Does your building have even a single advanced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensor that measures Particulate Matter (PM), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Formaldehyde, Ozone, or Carbon Monoxide?
- Does your building measure noise levels that distract or negatively impact the acoustical environment?
- Is thermal comfort sound like an unattainable goal in your office?
These and other issues represent common foes to health and wellness in even the most modern of work environments. The reason is simple, the BAS or EMS wasn’t designed to solve those problems.
New sensor technology is required. Thankfully, they exist today and are easily obtainable for retrofit in existing buildings.
Reasons Why the Internet of Things (IoT) Has Conquered the Problem
Today’s Innovation Not Tomorrow’s Hope
You don’t have to wait any longer. The IAQ roadmap enabled by IoT is disrupting the status quo. IoT is also at the center of efforts to manage Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) by enabling real-time measurements of noise, light, vibration, pressure, etc.
Visualize the type of real-time IAQ/IEQ data you would like today. Does your current BAS/EMS ecosystem even allow you to order such an IAQ/IEQ sensor package for upgrading your current infrastructure? If not, then you can either wait, or embrace the innovations that IoT has already delivered.
The perceived bias against the practical benefits of IoT have rapidly dissipated. The urgent need for real-time IAQ/IEQ data has forced the issue. The shift from products to the delivery of real-time services will continue to place a spotlight on the business transformation leaders.
IoT Platforms Deliver IAQ/IEQ Customization
Not all IAQ/IEQ applications are created equal. It would, of course, be ideal if a single IAQ/IEQ product containing a comprehensive set of IAQ/IEQ sensors would cover all IAQ/IEQ applications. No surprise, but this doesn’t exist.
The first reason is due to inefficiency of cost. The likelihood that customers would pay for a single IAQ/IEQ product that includes temperature, humidity, CO2, PM, VOCs, Formaldehyde, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, light, sound, pressure, and other IAQ/IEQ sensors is extraordinarily unlikely. Nobody wants to pay for something they don’t need. Not all IAQ/IEQ applications require the same sets of IAQ/IEQ data.
IoT platforms address the underlying variations in the physical environment as expressed by the IAQ/IEQ sensor application requirements. IoT platforms enable customization of the specific combination of IAQ/IEQ sensors needed for a given sensing application. An IAQ node for a parking garage may need a Carbon Monoxide sensor, while an IAQ/IEQ node for a conference room may need CO2, PM, VOC and Ozone sensors. IoT platforms enable IAQ/IEQ customization because they don’t approach the IAQ/IEQ problem with a product mindset.
Beyond customization, the biggest benefit of IoT platforms is future proofing. Sensor application requirements change rapidly. Not many cared about PM and VOC sensors three years ago. What new IAQ/IEQ sensors will people care about three years from now. IoT platforms will seamlessly scale with these problem due to their inherent extensibility.
Wireless Connectivity of IoT solutions is Perfectly Suited for Retrofits
New wiring costs can make up anywhere from 20% to 80% of the retrofit project costs. This, of course, does not consider the significant project delays incurred due to the time it takes to scope and install new network wiring. The potential disruption on existing tenants also serves as a deterrent.
Wireless IoT solutions typically feature same day retrofit installation with project scoping times at a fraction of the expected timeframes imposed by BAS/EMS integration efforts. Nobody can spare that type of time and expense.
Seize upon the inherent strengths of IoT in delivering upon your current health and wellness initiatives.
IoT is the obvious solution for a growing industry problem. Tenants are leading the charge because they bear a direct responsibility for their employees. IoT will continue to be embraced in increasing fashion because the lack of alternatives provided by the incumbent BAS/EMS ecosystems forces the issue.