Remote and real-time building monitoring: An emerging trend for smart buildings?

Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, the need for reducing buildings’ energy consumption and GHG emissions (accounting for about 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption and emissions) had sparked interest in remote and real-time monitoring of energy consumption in the building sector.

Now, with the emergence of occupants’ health and safety as a top priority, the incorporation of health and wellbeing into the building sector is no longer just a “nice-to-have” and corporate real estate and facilities managers are inevitably becoming far more interested in increasing occupants’ health and wellbeing. Given that a healthy and happy workforce is a vital component of a productive and successful company, business leaders are shifting their focus towards intelligent remote monitoring systems for energy and environmental management of their buildings to ensure the necessary indoor air quality with the minimum possible energy cost.

Mickey Rooney (Program Manager, JLL) anticipates the development going into a similar direction. According to him, smart sensors allow the facility management to monitor unfolding issues that need to be addressed immediately. Remote monitoring systems would therefore allow to detect risks in an earlier stage and to address them before employees have suffered from its consequences. (Click here for the interview)

Insights from our Practice

With Oxygen at Work, we have equipped more than 60 businesses in Switzerland with remote monitoring systems that extend natural office plant concepts. Although we have already perceived great interest in the software by its launch in 2017, we still observe continuously increased engagement rates over time. The proprietary remote monitoring system, consisting of smart sensors and a real-time dashboard, allows businesses to get comprehensive and sharable insights about the prevailing indoor air quality. On this basis, employers can ensure a healthy working environment that prevents cost-intensive sick leave absences.

Beyond addressing health, real-time data can also be used as a basis to reduce operational costs. Thanks to IoT sensor technology and data-driven algorithms, the solution of Oxygen at Work offers a digital representation of the energy management system, facilitating remote analysis and control of HVAC-related energy consumption and GHG emissions. By doing so, it can not only save energy costs but also contribute to the sustainability of businesses.

Conclusion and Outlook

Remote monitoring will be a game-changer that allows businesses of all sectors to analyze data regularly and prevent problems rather than reacting to them when things go wrong. Though being in its infancy, remote building monitoring offers new efficiency gains and predictive maintenance such that the deterrent upfront investments for the infrastructure most probably will be offset in the long run. According to Rooney, upcoming 5G technology and the increased awareness of smart technology will be major drivers that lead to much more common use of remote monitoring within buildings in the coming years.