Benefits of Smart Building Automation with IoT

March 1, 2022

Building managers and real estate investors aren’t the only ones interested in reducing building operating costs and improving related efficiencies. Business owners and operators looking to reduce utility and maintenance costs can profit from employing Internet of Things (IoT) systems management platforms. IoT platforms can transform their properties into smart buildings.

Improving operations that impact the bottom line includes automating processes related to: 

  • Energy efficiency 
  • Temperature control 
  • Equipment and building maintenance
  • Security
  • Sanitation 

At the consumer level, smart homes can use IoT devices and platforms to operate interesting gadgets and help residents to: 

  • Save on utility costs 
  • Monitor home security systems from afar 
  • Automate system controls (e.g., HVAC and lighting)
  • Watch for critical home failures (e.g., water leaks, electricity outages, etc.)

What Makes a Home or Building Smart?

Before we dive into the benefits, what exactly defines a smart home or building? A smart home or building is a structure with functions that have been automated based on owner or manager specifications. IoT-connected technologies can now automate tasks that take time to perform and mental power to manage. Tasks can be: 

  • Scheduled in advance 
  • Adjusted or rescheduled remotely 
  • Monitored through related technologies

Although maintenance task automation has been possible for years, the costs often made it prohibitive. The dropping costs of IoT sensors make smart building upgrades an obvious decision for those seeking more home and business efficiency.

6 Benefits and Advantages of Smart Homes and Buildings

Various smart building trends are appearing on the market. Property owners are turning to IoT tech to automate many of their properties’ everyday functions. Here are some ways smart homes and buildings can improve efficiencies and provide cost savings:

1. IoT for HVAC and Lighting

Optimizing the lighting and HVAC in your home or building can decrease your electricity bill. Heating and cooling represent the largest annual electricity uses in the U.S. residential sector and a major expense in commercial buildings. According to a Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (CEEE) report, installing smart integrated systems in an energy-inefficient building can provide energy savings of 30-50%. 

Building automation systems (BAS) combine hardware and software to automate system management, such as HVAC and lighting, within one platform. While individual smart upgrades (e.g., connecting thermostats to apps for remote control and monitoring) will yield some energy savings, BAS’s integrated approach will maximize your savings. The BAS can be installed in new construction or as part of a retrofit in commercial buildings. Connecting disparate and legacy equipment sounds daunting. However, adding IoT sensors and a management platform to existing systems can be simpler and less costly than you might expect. Many providers design their products and platforms with retrofits in mind.

Home automation may involve a more piecemeal approach, with different apps to control HVAC and lighting systems. Some companies are starting to apply the integrated BAS model to smart homes. They are building smart home operating systems that link and manage all the technology in a residential home.  

2. Thermal Comfort

Multiple studies have found that thermal comfort in commercial environments influences productivity by approximately 8%. By using sensors to heat or cool specific rooms at certain times, the costs of providing optimal thermal comfort will decrease. Integrated systems may include AI-powered controls to monitor room occupancy and adjust HVAC settings accordingly. These controls ensure environmental comfort and energy savings.

With more people working remotely than ever, managing comfort in the smart home environment is essential. An integrated home automation system can provide similar data and insights. It can enable automated temperature control to ensure that occupants work and live in a comfortable environment.

3. Air Quality

Air quality and adequate ventilation have become major concerns over the COVID-19 years. Businesses are investing in BAS to manage air quality to ease the transition back to in-person working environments. Beyond reducing the spread of pathogens, improving your building’s air quality will generate increased occupant happiness and productivity. 

More importantly, IoT sensors that monitor air quality can catch something that might take a human more time to identify. They can monitor increased carbon monoxide levels and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VOCs include gases emitted from chemicals that have short- and long-term adverse health effects. VOC levels are up to 10 times higher indoors versus outdoors. This exposure can be significantly reduced with good ventilation and air filtration. When a sensor can detect threats and fix them before a property or its occupants are at risk, your bottom line is already on the upswing.

4. Increased Physical and Cybersecurity

As businesses and homeowners adopt IoT technology, connected physical security systems are on the rise. Connected security systems represent a massive boost to safety and security in any building. These systems include:

  • Security cameras
  • Movement detectors
  • Digital identification devices
  • Access management stations
  • Touchless visitor access control

Employing a digital solution that you can centralize and toggle saves money on additional security aspects that would be rendered redundant. Smart home security systems are becoming common, with IoT doorbell cameras and other services. These systems provide homeowners with peace of mind even when away from their homes.

Cybersecurity is another focus for smart building and smart home automation. More connected systems and devices create an expanded attack surface, leaving smart buildings and homes vulnerable to cyberattacks. Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity can help businesses and residents keep their systems and devices safe. Choose systems and providers that build security into their designs from the start. Change passwords frequently, test systems regularly, and train workers (or family members) to use IoT tools responsibly. Choosing a BAS or an overarching platform to manage your smart home or building technologies can improve cybersecurity. It allows you to monitor all your devices on a single platform. Such platforms often provide security alerts and monitoring services.  

5. Sanitation

Connecting sanitation devices with sensors is another way smart buildings can reduce costs. Imagine the ability to control: 

  • Water flow
  • Paper consumption
  • Airflow for hand drying 
  • Aroma or cleaning chemical sprays on a timer that a single source can control 

IoT sensors installed in restrooms can monitor usage and create reports. The generated data can help facilities managers make wise decisions and observe trends (e.g., temperature control, water usage and plumbing problems). Restricting access to facilities during cleaning or controlling temperature and lighting while not in use can reduce costs.

Connected utility meters can monitor water usage in a smart home and notify homeowners of unusual patterns. This monitoring can catch and control water leaks or other plumbing issues faster. Smart appliances can self-detect mechanical problems and even contact customer support for help. They provide data visibility around usage to help homeowners predict energy costs and modify behavior.

6. Energy Efficiency

Installing smart building and smart home IoT devices can increase efficiencies and security and decrease energy usage. They can also reduce insurance premium costs. Recognizing the smart building technology benefits, many insurance companies offer reduced rates for customers who use them. 

Depending on the insurance type, you may find discounts for using: 

  • Smart thermostats 
  • Security systems 
  • Automatic or remote shutoffs for gas and water 
  • Smart smoke detectors or fire alarms
  • Other devices that provide remote management capabilities 

Such systems can provide valuable data for insurance companies as they process claims. For example, suppose a homeowner reports a break-in. A video security system can provide data to help the insurance company sort out details and verify the damage. Most home insurers today offer 5-20% discounts for installing one or more smart home devices or a home automation system.

Commercial property insurers are starting to provide discounts for customers who use smart building automation technologies. IoT technologies provide immediate detection of potentially serious problems within a building (e.g., a gas leak or frozen pipe), minimizing damage and resulting insurance claims. These reductions benefit the property owner and their insurance company.

Increase Productivity and Savings with IoT Enablement for Smart Buildings

Improving operations with IoT sensor technology will positively impact your business’s financial and interpersonal sides. Mundane tasks can be automated and occupants rendered more comfortable and productive. IoT enablement can optimize your bottom line to account for the added competencies.

Adopting IoT technologies at home can provide similar rewards: 

  • Improved physical security 
  • Quicker notifications and response if there’s an appliance failure or other problem
  • Enhanced HVAC and lighting system control for energy bill savings

For smart building and home product designers, IoT can transform businesses from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to valuable service providers. IoT-enabled products empower you to glean real-time consumer data for insights that drive improvements and updates. Smart connectivity links you to customers in an ongoing relationship as your automation services improve their lives.

Explore how you can begin the process of making your organization’s real estate smarter. Contact Telit to speak with an IoT expert. As pioneers driving IoT to new heights, we’d be happy to assist you in driving your business forward and your expenses back.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on 5 February 2018 and has since been updated.