Implementing Smart Environmental Monitoring to Enhance Facility Comfort

HVAC, smart buildings, environmental monitoring

Facility management is evolving. New technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, offer greater insight into and control over facilities than ever before. Smart environmental monitoring is among the most promising applications of this technology.

Types of smart environmental monitoring technology

Environmental monitoring covers a range of devices and software that analyze factors like temperature, humidity, and air quality in real time. In many cases, this technology also responds to conditions as they change, streamlining facility management.

Smart thermostats are the most familiar example for many people. Roughly 16% of U.S. households already use one of these devices that respond to real-time temperature readings to maintain optimal conditions. More advanced commercial options may include humidity controls, occupancy sensors, and integration with building management systems.

IoT lighting systems are another common example of smart environmental monitoring technology. These alternatives to conventional lights let facility managers remotely control their brightness, hue, and scheduling to balance visual comfort with power consumption.

Smart HVAC systems bring similar features to a building’s ventilation. Simpler endpoints like standalone IoT sensors to monitor airflow, contaminants, or energy-related emissions also fall under the smart facility solutions umbrella.

Smart environmental monitoring offers several key benefits across various use cases. Here are four of the most substantial.

1. Occupant comfort

The most straightforward advantage of smart facility solutions is that they make interior spaces more comfortable. Since people spend 90% of their time indoors, uncomfortable temperatures, humidity, or air quality levels quickly become noticeable and distracting.

Facility managers who maintain optimal conditions will see greater client satisfaction. However, with conventional methods, achieving this is often easier said than done. Smart environmental monitoring thrives in these areas where traditional systems falter because it accounts for unpredictable changes in the environment. By analyzing real-time data, smart environmental monitoring can maintain ideal conditions despite shifting factors like occupancy levels or the weather.

2. Occupant health and safety

Environmental monitoring can also go beyond mere comfort to significantly impact people’s health. Efficient HVAC systems are key to preventing airborne contaminants and resulting health issues—as the COVID-19 pandemic made evident. Smart HVAC does a better job at maintaining this efficiency because it can alert facility managers to maintenance issues and adjust airflow based on real-time air quality levels.

Temperature and humidity sensors have similar implications. Smart thermostats can prevent the growth of mold and similar contaminants by keeping indoor conditions below the threshold where they’re more likely to develop. Conventional equipment can’t do the same because it lacks the necessary data to gauge performance.

3. Cost efficiency

Smart facility solutions have economic benefits, too. Even something as simple as a smart humidifier can consume 90% less energy than conventional alternatives. These savings stem from the fact that real-time adaptation prevents waste.

A smart thermostat won’t run if a room is already sitting at the set temperature goal. Once it rises above or below that threshold, the device will only use as much energy as necessary to restore normal conditions. As a result, it maintains optimal conditions while using as little electricity as possible.

4. Sustainability

Those efficiency benefits translate into environmental sustainability. Sustainable facility services are seeing rising demand today as consumers become more aware of climate-related issues. Considering that energy consumption is one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions, smart environmental monitoring’s efficiency offers a crucial advantage.

Smart HVAC, in particular, can dramatically reduce a building’s energy-related emissions. Facility managers who install these devices appeal to an eco-conscious market to impress clients, build trust, and comply with ever-increasing environmental regulations.

Effective implementation of smart facility solutions

Facility managers who want to capitalize on these benefits should keep a few things in mind. While helpful, IoT devices can introduce cybersecurity risks. Without proper protection, hackers could infiltrate these gadgets to control them remotely or access other, more sensitive devices and data.

The first step is to change the passwords and settings of all devices, as IoT gadgets often have weak default passwords and unused features may pose unnecessary risks. Smart facility solutions should also run on a separate network from the building’s normal Wi-Fi. Enabling multifactor authentication and data encryption will also help.

Facility managers should also consider the costs of smart environmental monitoring solutions. While these systems’ efficiency will make up for their upfront costs over time, some businesses may still be wary about the initial expense.

The most cost-effective way to approach this technology is to upgrade one system at a time. Start with whatever will produce the biggest benefit—often a smart thermostat or HVAC solution —and slowly expand IoT investments from there.

The key to modern facility management

Environmental monitoring solutions streamline facility management, improve comfort, protect occupants’ health, and make buildings more efficient. Those advantages are hard to overlook.

As more buildings embrace these systems, people will come to expect them. Upgrading facility solutions today will prepare managers for this more connected future.

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers stories in construction and facilities management.

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