An intimate jazz concert took place in October 2020, in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, at a downtown bar in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. An audience of less than two dozen students and faculty from the University of Illinois sat listening, all of whom had recently tested negative for Covid-19. For some of the performances, the musicians performed wearing masks or with covers over their instruments’ mouthpieces; the rest of the time, they did not. While they played, a mechanical engineering professor experimented offstage, altering the airflow at the venue throughout the evening by turning on and off exhaust and recirculation fans. His students monitored air quality to determine how well-ventilated the building was by measuring the presence of fine particles and carbon dioxide concentrations.
A small city on the border with Germany in southeast Netherlands decided in 2016 to construct a new municipal office that would promote the idea of healthy and sustainable buildings. It involved the installation of a 2,000 square meter green wall covered with vegetation to filter outdoor pollutants such as carbon dioxide, along with acting as insulation against cold, heat, and sound.
During the summer of 2020, the United Kingdom’s government responded to substantial pressure from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to prioritize energy efficiency in an effort to revive the economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the government committed £1 billion to retrofit public sector buildings. This “green recovery” not only provides much-needed infrastructure to increase energy efficiency, but is creating jobs throughout the UK, preparing buildings for low-carbon heating, and setting the country on a course to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
With climate change accelerating and built environments accounting for nearly 40% of energy use worldwide, energy efficiency has become a key objective for building management. Smart building technology offers tools for achieving optimal energy efficiency using IoT sensors that generate comprehensive data on equipment functionality and environmental conditions. With the assistance of automated building management systems (BMS), analytics software, and big data, energy consumption is more easily controlled and occupant comfort is improved.
When building owners are looking to cut costs, the first place they often look is energy spend. And that makes sense: energy is an enormous expenditure in commercial buildings. But energy savings aren’t the only way to reduce costs. What’s more, many of the same mechanisms and tools used to reduce energy use—including system integration and advanced building analytics—can be used to identify other cost reduction opportunities.
Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors, and the air we breathe when inside a building can have a big impact on our health. Airborne pollutants indoors can occur at up to five times the concentrations of outside air, leading to the development or aggravation of respiratory health conditions like asthma, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. Several studies have even found that buildings may even concentrate contaminants present in the air from their immediate vicinity.
Going green is a top-of-mind strategy for many facilities managers today, and for good reason. While it’s essential to hit and maintain standard business norms concerning occupant comfort, not to mention preserve status levels for electricity-dependent services of all kinds, it’s also essential to minimize energy costs. Without the right tools, finding a balance between these goals is far from easy.
On July 18, 2015, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shut down. It happened on a Wednesday, lasting nearly four hours, from 11:30 in the morning until 3:10 in the afternoon. All trading came to a halt, leaving traders on the floor twiddling their thumbs until just before the closing bell. On the same day, the Wall Street Journal’s website crashed and United Airlines grounded flights globally for nearly two hours due to technical problems, with many suspecting a coordinated cyberattack. Though the cause turned out not to be malicious, the root of these failures was no less troubling.
The best way for building owners and facilities managers to make Internet of Things (IoT) technology effective involves thinking first about what this technology can accomplish for their particular situation. When looking at creating a smart system with advanced automation, IoT devices should be chosen with careful consideration of the problems they are meant to resolve and the practicality of any possible solutions in each building. By identifying specific objectives, you can make better decisions about which technologies to introduce.
A 2015 Rutgers University study looked at whether green building tax credits and compliance with certification programs contributed positively to improving indoor air quality in green buildings and its relation to occupant health. Over the course of five years, researchers measured indoor air quality at a residential high-rise complex, using an industrial hygiene contractor to conduct annual air quality assessments. It compared these measurements to conventionally-built residential buildings, following New York’s Green Building Tax Credit (GBTC) and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) requirements.