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Optimize Your Building Occupancy Management with Data Analytics

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Zach Briers

Prior to 2020, building occupancy management was often an afterthought for smart buildings, even though the technology was widely available. Then Covid-19 happened. Global economies shut down, businesses shuttered, and public spaces became off-limits. When the world began opening back up, social distancing restrictions required strict limits on the number of people who could occupy a building. Suddenly, building occupancy management became a top priority.

Occupancy sensors track the number of people within a structure at any given time. These sensors can be anything from low-tech infrared people counters that only respond to movement to cutting-edge thermal imaging technology that senses differences in body temperature. But occupancy sensor data can do more than count people. When combined with analytics software, real-time and historical occupancy data becomes an invaluable tool to manage your building.

The Value of Building Occupancy Management

Forward-thinking commercial real estate owners and managers increasingly rely on building occupancy management to improve day-to-day operations and to realize long-term goals. By tracking and analyzing where people are within a built environment, you can better support health and safety, reduce overhead, improve sustainability, and optimize performance. 

IoT technology is the core of building occupancy management. Smart sensors give you greater insight and control over: 

  • Energy usage: Knowing when and how occupants use certain rooms or areas within a building is effective in driving energy efficiency strategies. Automating HVAC, lighting, and other systems according to real-time or predicted occupancy is a powerful way of reducing energy waste. 
  • Occupant productivity: Building occupancy management supports workplace productivity in commercial buildings. For example, occupancy data helps you plan office layouts in a way that lets people optimize their workday.
  • Space utilization: By understanding how people move through a building, underutilized areas are easily identified. This allows you to make informed decisions about space utilization to improve building performance. 

Occupancy data aids better sanitation practices, tightened security, prioritized maintenance, and pinpoints areas in need of capital improvements. Gaining these capabilities ensures that occupant needs—including Covid-19 protocols—are met as efficiently as possible while offering real economic benefits for building owners.

Analyzing Occupancy: A Case Study

Both historical and real-time building data are critical for building occupancy management. When paired with advanced building analytics, this data can drive operational improvements to help you achieve a range of business goals. 

For example, a 2019 study on the impact of occupancy profile optimization in university buildings on energy efficiency found: 

  • Optimizing scheduling timetables achieved up to 1.23% energy savings.
  • Using demand-driven control strategies, along with predicted heating demand, reduced energy use by 11.65% without compromising thermal comfort. 
  • Integrating demand-driven controls with schedules based on historical data, energy savings rose to nearly 19%. 

These numbers represent not only significant cost savings, but also greater sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.

A More Effective Approach to Facilities Management

The best building occupancy management systems integrate advanced analytics software with machine learning capabilities. These platforms continuously assess sensor data to alert you to potential problems and suggest solutions. With deep insight into building conditions, you are empowered to address occupancy-related issues and develop smart strategies to enhance future performance. For example, ventilation can automatically increase in a meeting room as occupants enter and cleaning staff can be alerted when a restroom has been used a certain number of times. In other words, smart building occupancy management makes equipment and staff more responsive to the real-time needs of people.

Over time, analytics software with machine learning capabilities will learn the nuances of a building’s operations to improve conditions and efficiency even further. The result is a more effective approach to facilities management and a meaningful return on investment.

Buildings IOT offers state-of-the-art solutions for smart building occupancy management. Contact our team of experts to learn more about what we can do for you.



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