“It turns from a building into a robot, what’s fun about that?”

"It turns from a building into a robot, what's fun about that?" - Big, 1988

Good question, Josh (Tom). The market is flooded with new smart technologies that can automate the whole occupant experience, from predictive elevator dispatching to precise temperature control. These technologies can save you time, money, and improve tenant comfort. Before you go down this road, start by mining opportunities from your existing control systems. When evaluating new technologies, develop a strategic plan to capture NOI so that you are deploying capital responsibly.

Buildings are not autonomous

The year is 2030 and you are cruising down the road in your autonomous car and a “Sensor Failure” light blinks on your dashboard. Knowing that sensors steer your car, you immediately pull over to prevent an accident.

Many buildings are operated like they are autonomous, but they are not. Buildings have many check engine lights and automation dashboards that require monitoring and swift action to optimize utility and financial performance. However, a shortage of awareness and/or expertise can prevent buildings from reaching their operating potential.

Go in for a tune-up

The technology behind even the newest building automation systems (BAS) is 10-20 years old. In our experience collaborating with over 500 property teams, most buildings are under-utilizing their existing BAS and rely heavily on their vendors to maintain their building controls. While many controls vendors are very talented, they are not incentivized to improve your building’s utility and financial performance. Therefore, your operations team needs to take the initiative to ensure they are optimizing the performance of their control systems.
 
They should meet with their controls vendor to explore opportunities to better align equipment operations with tenant schedules, building loads, and outside weather conditions. Engage an operational advisor to perform a Remote BAS Opportunity Analysis to identify opportunities to dial-in your building controls. BAS programming enhancements can improve tenant comfort, system reliability, and provide immediate financial returns.

Smart investment in smart technologies

Building operators are technically-minded and often gravitate towards new technologies. However, newer technology does not always lead to better performance. Before you invest in new technologies, develop a strategy that addresses the following:

  • How are you going to utilize the technology?
  • How will your team interact with the technology (i.e., dashboard)?
  • Who is going to be in charge of acting on the data collected? Do they have the expertise, time, and resources needed? 
  • Do you have the resources available to successfully implement the strategy or do you need outside support?
  • How are you going to track your ROI and evaluate performance?

Mining opportunities from your existing control systems and developing a strategy before investing in new technologies will ensure that you are deploying capital responsibly and fully capturing NOI.

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