Four objectives for safer, healthier buildings
As an industry, we face a formidable mission: To make the buildings where we live, work, and play safer and healthier — fast.
Building owners and facility managers will need to focus on four key areas to meet the new demands of the returning workforce:
- Safer space management
- Enhanced occupant well-being
- Improved occupant engagement
- Streamlined operational efficiency
We will examine each area and learn how to adapt successfully to new building maintenance and operations practices.
As people return to office buildings, hotels, and restaurants, there will be a significant need to monitor and manage social distancing.Key considerations include:
- Proper social distancing: Monitor whether desks and occupants are sufficiently separated via sensors and special software
- Occupancy monitoring: Set capacity thresholds at the room, floor, or building level and receive notifications if occupancy levels risk exceeding limits
- An optimal layout: Analyze how occupants are using spaces to improve floor layout and determine what areas need additional cleaning
- Equipment requirements: Track space usage to determine if there is under-used equipment or space — for under-used spaces, you can reduce maintenance and HVAC energy use
- Is your conference room exceeding the occupancy threshold?
- How many people are currently in your hotel lobby?
- Are the office desks spaced far enough apart?
You may be facing questions you’ve never asked before. Fortunately, there are digital tools that help you adapt to new regulations, suggested guidelines, and company policies.
Enhanced occupant well-being
A key element of attracting occupants back to buildings is to increase safety with better air quality, touchless control points, and sanitization.Key considerations include:
- Air quality monitoring: Monitor and control proper air circulation, per CDC guidelines, across your building to prevent excessive and prolonged air delivery, maintain proper CO2 levels, and hit comfortable targeted temperature setpoints
- Optimal humidity: Maintain consistent humidity levels that meet the recommended healthy building range prescribed by ASHRAE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Volatile organic compound (VoC) control: Improve air quality by tracking and venting VoCs
- Transportation: Consider autonomous vehicles for guest use or robots to make deliveries
- Policies and plans: Utilize guidelines developed by Arc Guide to Re-Entry, or the International Well Building Institute for policies around healthy environments and well-being
- Do you need to replace an air filter or a leaky valve?
- How close are you to your optimal humidity level?
- What’s causing the air handling system to malfunction?
Now that you can keep occupants at a safe distance, it’s all about improving occupant well-being and air quality. New monitoring and reporting tools bring intelligence, resiliency, and predictive analytics to bear on this challenge.
Increase occupant engagement
If one side of the equation is being able to make your building safer, the other side is to communicate these safety measures to occupants.Key considerations include:
- Improved communications (transparency): Send key updates and share technology improvements to workforce and guests, helping to establish trust and industry leadership
- Manage new complexity: Organize teams rotating between home and office during the new normal
- Share current occupancy levels: Enable occupants to navigate to desired areas with mapping visualizations of open spaces
- How many desks are available?
- When was the building last cleaned?
- Who used the elevator, and when, and can you reach them for contact tracing if need be?
A key part of bringing occupants back to your building is to offer them insights into the building status. New digital tools allow you to keep occupants engaged with the latest updates, such as how frequently air filters have been changed and when areas were last cleaned.
Optimize operational efficiency
Building management systems helped the industry improve efficiency. Now, there will be even greater demands put on the building infrastructure.Key considerations include:
- Optimized HVAC and energy use: Monitor and manage your HVAC system for enhanced ventilation, temperature and humidity control. Gain visibility and control over energy use across your building systems, so you can identify savings opportunities
- Amenity management: Control access, lighting, and energy use in areas temporarily left vacant due to lower occupancy, such as gyms and cafeterias
- Power management: Monitor and manage your electrical infrastructure actively, to ensure power reliability and optimize electrical asset use
- Smart cleaning: Direct janitorial teams where they’re needed most, without wasting time on unused areas, via occupancy sensors that alert you when areas approach cleaning thresholds
- Asset tracking: Track who uses high-use building equipment such as elevators / lifts, carts, clothing racks, and more, to determine sanitization schedule and aid contact tracing
- How can I save energy during low-occupancy operations?
- How can I limit access to the gym or café?
- Where do I need to deploy my janitorial staff for extra cleaning?
Of course, adapting successfully to the new normal isn’t only about your occupants; it’s also about making the most of your energy and resources. Fortunately, new technologies can help you keep occupants comfortable, while simultaneously helping you use energy and resources more wisely.
Forge ahead in unprecedented times with EcoStruxure™ Building
Learn more about EcoStruxure Building and the components that can help you optimize space management, improve occupant well-being, drive operational efficiency, and boost performance.
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