commercial buildings

IoT, LEDs, lighting, and the future of workplace planning

In the real estate industry, understanding how our buildings are used is critical to understanding how to manage our buildings.

View the original article here.
By Brad Pease

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What is IoT and why is it useful to workplace planning?

IoT = Internet of Things: The interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data via the internet.

In the real estate industry, understanding how our buildings are used is critical to understanding how to manage our buildings. Buildings may be built of brick and mortar, but they are not static; they constantly evolve based on the needs of their occupants. People change their schedules and their locations within a building; and the people and technology that they need access to change too.

For building owners, understanding how your second highest investment (your real estate) interacts with your highest investment (your people) is critical to your company’s long-term financial success. Do you have too much space? Not enough? The right type of space? The right quality of space? These are all questions that you need a good source data to understand, and the dataset should allow you to trend how your building is used. This trending data empowers your workplace planning team to spot opportunities to make meaningful changes.

A new data source for workplace planning: IoT-connected lighting

Workplace planners need a device to collect data. Rather than adding a ton of sensors to a building – or worse, to people – designers need something that is in every room, and that indicates how the space is used. The answer is likely above you right now. It is indicating that you are present, and is tuned to the needs of your current task. The answer, of course, is the lights.

IOT lighting data can help owners establish a workplace design strategy. While this isn’t the typical use-case for lighting system data, it can be used to understand space utilization and adds a powerful dimension to workplace planning and decision making.

As every space in a building requires lighting, and the only reason we have lights is for people, lights are the ideal candidate to use as a data source; and lights don’t need a lot of added intelligence to be a great data source.  Here are three useful ways to track lighting data for workplace design:

  • Whether a light is on or off indicates if the room is occupied.
  • The number of fixtures or lighting scenes that are used in a room will indicate the type of function that is occurring in that room.
  • The total hours of fixture use can indicate the utilization of the space and, in the case of multi-use spaces, the most frequent activities that users engage in.

When all the above is tracked, trended, and analyzed, you will understand: which spaces in your building are used the most; which spaces don’t get used at all; and what type of spaces are over-used, potentially leading to resource constraint that your employees need to do their work. Trending the data across a building or campus will allow you to optimize your investment in changes to your real estate, perhaps allowing you to invest in a new way of using your space based on the best data sources available: your employees. That’s better than investing in a new building!

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Powering LEDs through the Ethernet

The cost to implement an IOT lighting system can be reduced through the advancement in LED technology. Using LEDs reduce power consumption plus LED lights offer more options as to how to power those lights. LEDs are so efficient that it is possible to power them using an ethernet cord, eliminating a traditional power cord. Called Power Over Ethernet (POE), you can both control and power an LED light with one cord instead of two.  The cost to install a power cord is the same as the cost to run Ethernet, and it eliminates the need for wireless or additional control wires in the fixtures – which results in a lower cost of installation. And using POE, light fixtures are suddenly accessible for IoT uses because they are connected to a two-way data line.

Once you have Ethernet connectivity to every fixture, the controllability and data collection opportunities sky rocket. You don’t need smart fixtures – you need just one centralized smart controller that sends, tracks, and trends fixture use. Once connected to a cloud-based interface, facility managers and building owners are granted instant information on their building utilization. Simply add POE technology to your next lighting upgrade, and you’ll open a whole new data source for your workplace design strategy team.

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The wellness connection: how a POE- and IOT-connected lighting system contributes to an optimal work environment

POE- and IOT-connected LED fixtures can be used to increase health and wellbeing along with optimized energy performance. LEDs can modify the spectrum of light being supplied, which in combination with dimming capability, allows a lighting designer to optimize a space for human cognitive performance.

Humans evolved outdoors for thousands of years before moving inside to work under artificial lighting. People perform better, feel better, and enjoy their surroundings more when connected to nature. And natural light has thousands of permeations a minute, and constantly changes to reflect the time of day, weather, and surrounding surface reflections.

LEDs can be tuned to match the natural cycles of daylight, with blue hues in the morning giving way to red hues in the evening. This circadian lighting pattern allows interior spaces to mimic the natural rhythms of the outdoors. Programming artificial lighting to match natural light, has proven to improve cognitive performance. It can also help building occupants to wake up, fall asleep quicker at night, and stay refreshed longer.

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The future is bright

IoT-connected lighting is more than a technology trend; IoT-connected lighting allows us to find new uses for old things and reframe our understanding of items that were once viewed as static. Lights, their power, and their controls can provide a rich data source that will allow you to optimize your real estate and your people, which improves the future of your business. IOT-connected lighting takes the guesswork out of many real estate needs, contributing to sustainability and wellness.

The Importance of an Energy Assessment for Commercial Buildings

By John Losey, Owner and Founder The BP Group, Energy Manager Today, 9/1/2016

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Building owners and property managers that take on the responsibility of limiting energy consumption can be looked at as environmental leaders. While energy management adds extra tasks to everyday lists, the benefits outweigh the time and money spent, which is usually returned in savings.

There are numerous areas to take into consideration when it comes to commercial buildings, and being that commercial buildings are generally large, the impact can be large as well. These areas include the HVAC system, chillers, windows, lighting, electrical equipment, and any other factors that may be contributing to the building’s energy consumption.

While there are various ways to be involved with bettering the environment outside of where you live and work, starting in a place that you occupy everyday has the potential of having long term results if the actions are carried through as often as you’re there.

Consider creating an outlined approach for managing the building’s energy with these areas in mind:

Identify Sustainable Alternatives Where Energy is Being Used:

  • Are there upgraded, energy-efficient versions of the equipment you can be using instead?
  • Could you use different settings on the equipment?

Assess the Purpose of Every Area:

  • Is the lighting being utilized in every room?
  • Is the size of the HVAC system an adequate fit for the building and its purpose?

Evaluate Maintenance Plans:

  • How frequent are the utilities maintained?
  • Do the maintenance technicians practice with energy efficiency in mind?

Look for Possible Areas of Energy Loss:

  • Are the building’s windows sealed properly?
  • Is the equipment too old for efficient functioning?

These are questions you should ask yourself if you’re trying to assess energy consumption and find that alternative route to save not only energy, but money as well.

After addressing these questions, you may find yourself planning to make some changes. Here is the information you should know for doing so:

Energy Efficient Equipment: Whether it’s the HVAC system, the utility lighting or the other various appliances being used in the building, there are energy-efficient options to consider. This includes ones with ENERGY STAR ratings, which match the standards set by the government.

Settings & Thermostats: Just by being knowledgeable about specific settings and the different types of available thermostats, you can be saving a substantial amount of energy. Depending on the type of building and the function(s) of the building, settings can be applied to use less energy in an area that doesn’t need it. The same idea goes for thermostats. Programmable thermostats allow for precise regulation of energy consumption. This means making sure the temperatures aren’t set too high or too low when the building or part of a building isn’t in use. Programmable thermostats keep the location comfortable when needed, but help save energy when it’s not.

Lighting: It’s better to be the building that turns its lights off when it isn’t being used, than a building that keeps them on 24/7. It’s also important to consider energy-saving types, such as LED or solar. With these kinds, you can also invest in timers and dimmers.

HVAC Size: According to ENERGY STAR, “at least 25% of all rooftop HVAC units are oversized, resulting in increased energy costs and equipment wear.” Determining what size HVAC system the building needs is a job for a professional technician, and it’s an important part of the overall building assessment.

Maintenance: Building maintenance is not only important for saving energy and money, it’s important for the building’s health and those occupying it. This includes electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc. While there are tasks you can manage on your own, there are specific tasks that are recommended for the hands of a professional technician. Whatever the area, it’s important to have maintenance scheduled. Having a definite schedule helps to prevent sudden issues, which prevents sudden energy loss as well.

Technicians: Certain companies know the importance of offering energy-efficient services. This means that they practice in ways that are beneficial for the environment. Research the companies in your area and look for the ways they’re working to save energy and you money. This is an important quality, and more companies are beginning to realize that.

Windows, Replacements & Other Areas of Loss: Other ways to assess energy is by looking into the not so obvious. This includes windows, old systems that don’t show signs of stress until it’s too late, and too many running appliances and pieces of equipment causing heat. If windows aren’t sealed properly, especially in summer and winter, your HVAC system may be working harder than it has to in order to reach the desired temperature. Leaks of hot or cold air will cause this. Another concern are systems that don’t show signs of stress. If the system is old, it’s definitely recommended to have it maintained, even if you think otherwise. The inside has moving parts that may be working very hard to keep it running, and the machine giving out might be the first sign if you wait too long. Lastly, there may be too much heat. Too many heat producing appliances or pieces of equipment may cause the air conditioner to work harder, similar to an open window on a hot summer day.

Commercial buildings don’t function alone, they need the help of energy, and all building owners and property managers can help conserve it.

John Losey is the owner and founder of The BP Group, a leader in Commercial HVAC Services

New Law to Allow Tenants to Showcase Their Energy Efficiency Efforts

By Robert Carr, National Real Estate Investor, 5/15/2015

{ View the original article here. }

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Office tenants who became believers in energy conservation
in the heyday of the building sustainability movement about two decades ago only to watch building owners take all the credit have cheered a recent new law that will support, track and promote their efforts at being green.

President Barack Obama signed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 on April 30. The bipartisan-sponsored law promises to align the interests of building owners and tenants with regard to investments in cost-effective energy efficiency and water conservation measures, create studies that will examine successful sustainable practices, enact data-tracking systems and provide ways to promote voluntary tenant compliance.

The law, also known as the “Tenant Star” act, includes a new federally-sponsored green building designation that’s similar to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) popular Energy Star system. Energy Star, enacted in 1992, provides an energy-efficient rating system for building products, residential homes and commercial buildings. In a recent report, the EPA said the Energy Star system reduced utility bills for residents and businesses by $34 billion in 2014.

However, tenants, the backbone of energy use in commercial buildings, have neither had a consistent national program to measure efficient energy use, nor a way to tout their specific efforts. Allison Porter, vice president of sustainability services for commercial real estate services firm DTZ, says tenants will now have the same kind of opportunities as Energy Star provides for owners to turn data into a basis for action. The new law will allow space occupiers to take responsibility for their usage and receive recognition for conservation efforts, she says.

“Although whole-building measures like Energy Star are a valuable tool, it’s also crucial to acknowledge that tenants’ use of a space has a huge impact on how a building performs,” Porter says. “By encouraging tenants to design and build energy-efficient spaces, Tenant Star will help align the interests of tenant and landlord. I expect that this alignment will clear a path for a new wave of investment in energy-efficient office space, especially coming at a time when the cost of efficient technologies commonly used in office interiors, such as LED lighting and occupancy sensors, has decreased significantly.”

Porter is joined by many other tenant sustainability supporters in her praise of the new law. Anthony Malkin, chairman, president and CEO of New York City-based Empire State Realty Trust Inc., said in a statement that the new law will align office tenants with their landlords to make smart, cost-effective investments in energy-efficient leased spaces. “Broad adoption will save businesses billions of dollars on energy costs in the coming years,” he said.

Jeffrey DeBoer, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Real Estate Roundtable, which brings together commercial property owners, developers and managers to address national policy issues, called the legislation “a triple win that will spur the economy by creating jobs, enhancing energy security and preserving our environment by cutting greenhouse gases.”

Implementation

The General Services Administration (GSA), responsible for all federal government leasing in the country, will take responsibility for the first section of the law, also known as the Better Buildings Act of 2015. According to the act, the GSA will create model commercial leasing provisions for energy efficiency by Oct. 31, and may begin enacting these provisions in federal leases. The GSA will also publish these provisions and share them with state, county and municipal governments.

The Secretary of Energy is responsible, under this law, to create a study within one year on the feasibility of significantly improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings through design and construction, by owners and tenants, of spaces that will use energy efficient measures. The study will include, among other requirements, such metrics as return on investment and payback analyses, comparisons of spaces that use these measures and those that don’t, impact on employment and actual case studies and data on the spaces where these measures are implemented. The department will start seeking input on this study after Aug. 1.

In addition, to allow tenants to start touting their green policies, the EPA will create the Tenant Star designation as an offshoot of Energy Star. Not only will tenant data be added into the 23-year-old collection program already in place, the new designation will recognize tenants in commercial buildings who voluntarily achieve high levels of energy efficiency in their leased spaces. The EPA will also create a voluntary program to recognize owners and tenants that use energy efficiency in designing and creating new and retrofit space.

Al Skodowski, director of sustainability with commercial real estate services firm Transwestern, says this new law will help those companies that have been fully engaged in driving green practices for many years.

“The birth of Tenant Star, as another tool to help our tenants understand their use, reduce energy consumption and to save money, is a very exciting opportunity that will help us continue to improve efficiency in the industry,” he says.

Top 25 Cities with Most ENERGY STAR Buildings

April 10, 2014
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The EPA announced the sixth annual list of the top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings. The cities on this list demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits achieved by facility owners and managers when they apply a proven approach to energy efficiency to their buildings.

The Top 10 cities on the list are: Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; New York; San Francisco; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Philadelphia; and Houston.

“Not only are the ENERGY STAR’s top 25 cities saving money on energy costs and increasing energy efficiency, but they are promoting public health by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial buildings,” said Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Every city has an important role to play in reducing emissions and carbon pollution, and increasing energy efficiency to combat the impacts of our changing climate.”

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. ENERGY SSTAR-certified office buildings cost $0.50 less per square foot to operate than average office buildings, and use nearly two times less energy per square foot than average office buildings.

The data also show that more than 23,000 buildings across America earned this certification by the end of 2013. These buildings saved more than $3.1 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use from 2.2 million homes.

First released in 2008, the list of cities with the most ENERGY STAR-certified buildings continues to demonstrate how cities across America are embracing energy efficiency as a simple and effective way to save money and prevent pollution. Los Angeles has remained the top city since 2008 while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year. Atlanta moved up from the number five to number three. For the first time, Philadelphia entered the top 10, ranking ninth.

Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide and must be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect. These certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than typical buildings. Many types of commercial buildings can earn the title, including office buildings, K-12 schools, hotels and retail stores.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. In 2013 alone, Americans saved an estimated $30 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use of more than 38 million homes with the help of ENERGY STAR. The label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold. More than 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 commercial buildings and industrial plants have earned the label.

The 2014 Energy Star Top Cities are:
1. Los Angeles
2. Washington, DC
3. Atlanta
4. New York
5. San Francisco
6. Chicago
7. Dallas-Fort Worth
8. Denver
9. Philadelphia
10. Houston
11. Charlotte
12. Phoenix
13. Boston
14. Seattle
15. San Diego
16. Minneapolis-St. Paul
17. Sacramento
18. Miami
19. Cincinnati
20. San Jose
21. Columbus, Ohio
22. Riverside, Calif.
23. Detroit
24. Portland, Ore.
25. Louisville

More on the 2013 top cities: www.energystar.gov/topcities

More on Energy Star certified buildings: www.energystar.gov/buildinglist

10 US cities vow to slash emissions from buildings

By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer | January 29, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayors from 10 U.S. cities took aim at their skylines Wednesday, pledging to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from their buildings.

Businesses and homes are a major source of carbon-dioxide pollution in cities, with most of it coming from the burning of fossil fuels for heating, cooling and lighting.

Many of the participating cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., Philadelphia and Salt Lake City — already are working toward making their building stock more energy efficient.
Los Angeles last year became the first major city to require new and remodeled homes to sport “cool roofs” that reflect sunlight as part of an effort to save energy and reduce electricity bills.

Boston requires energy audits from building owners. The city, along with Chicago and Philadelphia, passed measures to track how much energy buildings are using as a first step toward boosting their efficiency.

Other places including LA, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Houston and Salt Lake City, participate in a voluntary federal program to cut energy waste from commercial and industrial buildings.

Under the new effort, cities will work with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Institute for Market Transformation, a nonprofit that promotes green building, to continue their progress and further shrink their carbon footprints by targeting existing commercial and apartment buildings.

The groups projected the emission reductions would be equal to taking more than a million cars off the road, and they could save residents and businesses $1 billion annually. The project is funded by ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation and other philanthropic groups, which invested $9 million for three years.

New York City managed to cut its emissions by persuading some landlords to switch from oil to natural gas, Bloomberg said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said cities can be the matchmaker between building owners and banks that lend money for energy-efficient upgrades. He said greening buildings makes economic sense.

“We look forward to stealing your best ideas,” he told other mayors.

The cities were chosen for their geographic diversity, ambitions and ability to follow through, said project director Laurie Kerr of the NRDC.

The cities will craft their plans in the next several months. Backers acknowledged that some policies may require legislation. It’ll take several years to gauge whether cities met their emissions and savings goals.

Keith Crane, director of the environment, energy and economic development program at the Rand Corp. think tank, called the partnership a good first step. But he doesn’t consider it earth-shaking.

“It’ll have a modest effect on greenhouse gas emissions if everything goes right,” he said.