“Comfort Is King” has always been my mantra when adding my input to product development.
This was mainly driven by my experiences managing commercial building facility teams. Before 2020, my main concern was ensuring the VIP rooms were constantly tempered while not freezing out the rest of the employees. Managing buildings today in the pandemic/post-pandemic world is much different, and it’s not going to get any easier. Companies are now focusing on “zero carbon emissions,” healthy indoor air quality” and “sustainability” to name a few. The facilities teams will be managing all these new expectations and, in most cases, without any additional resources. This will be impossible without additional tools and abilities.
I say impossible because with the Indoor Air Quality concerns, you need measurable data to provide evidence for your claims. In my previous blogs, you may recall that I stated we are not in an era of “trusting your building owner to do what’s right” so just telling the tenants “this air is great!” will no longer suffice. Metrics need to be proven and visible to everyone. We are also entering an era of litigation around the health of building tenants. As people return to the office, these concerns are hypersensitive. Until data is made available and easily transferable with various tools and sensors implemented, you are at risk when attempting to address these concerns. This is not going away and will require validating data to support the good and the bad. The data must be presented in a way that allows each of the above to be considered and authenticated. Currently, without extensive custom programming, this capability is not readily available in a BAS today.
We are also now popularizing sustainability. This is NOT energy savings, as those goals can be easily hidden from a company’s populace and bad practices can be hidden away relatively easily. Sustainability is different. We hear things like “why are the lights all on before anyone is in the building?” or “I have heard that we should close the blinds during the summer to keep things cool with less energy used.” They aren’t wrong. So, the question becomes, who can add all these additional responsibilities into their day? In most cases, that answer is “nobody.” I am not saying “manpower” because I don’t believe the solution is that simple. I think the solution is a combination of technologies that allow you to simultaneously attack each of the concerns. This sounds like a bit of a pipe dream due to the lack of affordable technology, but we have seen great strides in the affordability of digital services that provide ways to remove the siloed efforts that touch on all the above concerns.
With all this being said, the most straightforward “fix” for these issues is data. That may be a gross over-simplification, but it does not belie that it is the most accurate and fastest pathway to resolving all the new concerns within a building. For air quality, we have reports provided by analytics that will take the data collected from sensor implementation and provide an understandable visualization displaying different metrics. For sustainability goals, we take outputs from the same type of analytics combined with new occupancy sensing hardware to guide us towards places of waste and opportunity without the need to do a “deep dive” investigation with a contractor. This will start the building on a pathway towards a zero-carbon future and provide comfort for every person and piece of equipment within the building while addressing health and sustainability.
In summation, Facility Manager 2.0 will have a very similar role. They will be achieving the goals of the building owners. Goals have increased…it is time that we arm these teams with the data-focused tools required to take them on.