Connected Devices Help Building Owners Go Green and Cut Costs

March 7, 2019
Richard Theron

Global climate change has become an extremely pervasive and hotly contested topic in the national and political dialogue. Today, a majority of climate scientists and the broader scientific community agree that climate change is both advanced by human activity and approaching a point where massive negative consequences to the Earth will result. This has resulted in an incredible amount of public discourse about what can and should be done by individuals, companies and even the government about going “green.” 

You really only have to turn on the news or open a newspaper to see how much climate change, green initiatives, and environmental activism has gone mainstream. In fact, a new group of men and women in Congress are even advocating for a new, “Green New Deal,” which would see the government take drastic steps towards stemming climate change and becoming more environmentally conscious. 

With so much talk about green initiatives and climate change, many companies and organizations are looking for ways in which they can begin to work and operate in a more environmentally responsible way. This includes building owners and facilities managers, many of whom have identified green initiatives as both an integral part of their corporate social responsibility programs and an important step in improving their bottom lines. 

That’s right, there is a financial benefit to going green, it can help building owners and facilities managers cut costs and increase profits.  Greener, more energy-efficient devices,  help cut utility costs for the organization. 

To meet this demand for greener devices,  OEMs have gone “all in” on making their devices more energy efficient. It was something that we heard repeatedly at this year’s AHR Expo, one of the world’s leading HVAC conferences, and something that we’re seeing across the rest of the industrial and commercial equipment industry. 

One of the most effective ways that companies are working to make devices more efficient is to make them smarter and more connected. How does this work? Let’s take a look.

Smarter systems are leaner and greener than individual dumb devices

When industrial and commercial devices operate independently, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and inefficient to operate them in both cost-effective and environmentally conscious ways. For example, going around and turning down the heat or air conditioning in a building in advance of the weekend or a holiday is a tedious, time-consuming task when you have to physically walk from thermostat to thermostat, adjusting each one individually. 

Embracing smarter, more connected commercial devices and systems, such as HVAC and lighting systems, can make implementing energy-saving green initiatives, policies and procedures easier. It can even enable automation.
Embracing smarter, more connected commercial devices and systems – such as HVAC and lighting systems – can make implementing energy-saving green initiatives, policies and procedures easier. It can even enable automation.

What if that entire HVAC system was connected together? What if all of the HVAC devices, regardless of manufacturer, were managed as one with a single, consolidated interface? Now, reducing the A/C or heat is as simple as interacting with one device, making it easier and less time consuming to operate in an environmentally conscious and energy efficient way. Reducing the amount of power spent on cooling, heating, lighting and other systems when they’re not needed, they’re cutting costs and padding their own bank accounts while helping the environment. 

What if we can go a step further? What if we can eliminate the need for someone to interact with the system altogether, by embracing automation? 

Automation trumps aggregation

Every year, building management gets more and more complicated, with new tasks that must be done to keep a facility running smoothly. Any device that reduces a legion of repetitive tasks to a single key stroke on a single control panel has obvious value. A system of connected devices that automates many of these processes entirely is invaluable. 

OEMs and third parties are increasingly making smarter management systems for things like HVAC and lighting. For little cost up front, a system of connected devices, say, the lighting in a building, can be automated so that they adjust light conditions in response to occupancy and daylight savings time, using, or not using, energy when that level of consumption is merited by extant conditions in the facility. Similarly, a smart HVAC system would be able to use outside air to cool a smart facility instead of burning electricity to generate the same result. 

In short, automation saves money because connected smart devices don’t use energy when they don’t need to. That means less overall energy usage, meaning a smaller energy bill at the end of the month,  in addition to a reduced load on the building engineer’s bandwidth.  This makes it easier and more effective to go green, while also increasing the end benefit of green initiatives on a company’s bottom line. 

How can we make this a reality for the building owner and facilities manager? It all starts with the OEM making their devices more connected and interoperable. And that means utilizing gateways. By utilizing protocol gateways, OEMs can make their devices work with other devices seamlessly, regardless of which protocols and connections they utilize. These same gateways can be used with legacy systems and devices to enable them to connect to other, newer devices. The end result is a system of interconnected devices that can be managed and controlled as one, and even automated. 

Another step that OEMs can take that will deliver even more green and cost-saving benefits to their equipment owners is connecting their devices to the cloud.

Have questions? Contact us to get your questions answered or to schedule a demo. Visit our website to learn more.

Richard Theron
Richard Theron is the product line manager for FieldServer at MSA, where he works intimately with companies in the building automation, industrial automation, energy management and life safety markets to help them cloud-enable their equipment.

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