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Is your building intelligently supporting your well-being?

9th April 2024

     

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This article has been supplied by the author and has not been written or solicited by Creamer Media. It may be available only for a limited time on this website.

By Thabang Byl, Buildings Segment Lead at Schneider Electric

Buildings are gathering places for humans, and for its inhabitants to prosper, it needs to be sustainable, resilient and people centric. It is also this people centricity that requires buildings to be healthy.  In fact, studies have consistently shown that healthier buildings lead fewer sick days. 

The reality is building will always have to deal with outbreaks like the seasonal flu and other infectious diseases whilst maintaining an overall healthy, productive environment. Building operators and owners must therefore be cognisant of the health of building to ensure the wellbeing of occupants as well as mitigate potential productivity loss.

To this end, building health certifications have over the year gained some important traction, emphasising the importance of creating healthier indoor environments, promoting wellbeing.  For example, the WELL Building Standard, developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), focuses on enhancing human health and well-being within buildings, encompassing categories such as air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

Building Management Systems (BMS) and related smart building technologies have an important part play in putting an end to the colloquial “sick building syndrome”.  Building controls can assist in simplifying, improving and automating safe and healthy buildings. 

Making buildings smart, and healthier

In South Africa, smart buildings can simplify compliance with both legislative frameworks and voluntary certifications aimed at improving building health and safety. Together with WELL, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system also considers indoor environmental quality.

Connected devices track everything from room comfort parameters to indoor air quality such as CO2, VOC (volatile organic compounds) as well as daily people movement. Every aspect of power conditions and energy consumption is also accurately measured and analysed.

Driven by these inputs, building health and performance can be automatically optimised in a responsive and unified way. 

For example, if a rise in CO2 and/or increased density of people is detected, the BMS will respond by increasing ventilation in that zone. The opposite will also be true; a low occupancy zone will trigger the BMS to reduce ventilation as well as reduce heating, cooling, or lighting to save on energy. 

Here, indoor health is balanced with buildings’ efforts to run more efficiently and be environmentally sensitive.

The same network of VOC and occupancy sensors can ensure building maintenance crews clean the right places at the right time, helping ensure safety while optimising time and costs.

Also, the newest integrated employee engagement apps can keep employees informed of ‘safe’ areas to help avoid overcrowding, give them touch-free control over room comfort, and enable efficient meeting room booking. These and other convenient functions can all translate to gains in productivity.

Beyond these capabilities, the newest smart building solutions use continuous data collection and analytic tools to simplify building health and performance reporting. Reports can be regularly shared with third-party testing and building certification organisations.

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building collaborative IoT solutions help drive greater visibility and improvement of all aspects of building operations to assist owners’ facility managers realise healthier operations.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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