Smart Thinking for Smart Planning: Conservation

Our final entry on asking the right questions before launching a design/build project for a smart building covers what may be the most important aspect—or benefit—of smart buildings.

Here’s what Conserve means to us.

How will:

  • the building reach environmental, health, and safety goals?
  • it contribute to sustainability?
  • it make the most efficient use of space?
  • it reduce overhead and waste?
  • it make operations more efficient and reliable?
  • it conserve, or even generate, energy? What about water use?

We might use automated sensors to monitor occupancy, and run the data through analytics to reduce office footprints and close down unused work stations.

Other automated systems could audit energy use, and point out where energy can be saved, or alternative sources might be tapped. In retail, for instance, even a 10% reduction in energy costs is like gaining $25/sq ft on floor space.

Rain water might be captured and a grey water system installed for use in landscaping or sanitation.

We could use solar panels or even solar glass to generate our own electricity and sell power back to the grid during off-peak hours.

If the building houses manufacturing, we might use waste heat, for instance, to generate electricity.

Smart waste bins and robotic sorting, along with RFID tracking and fill sensors, could detect materials that can be recycled and re-used.

We might use sensors and automated analytics to adjust lighting and temperature according to the actual use of the space—turning down heating when the space is not in use, for instance.

We might specify a green roof to absorb rainfall, provide greater insulation, and help pull CO2 out of the air around the building.

We might consider conserving people as well as energy by designing inviting outdoor areas with walkways to encourage lunchtime walks, or beautiful staircases to encourage climbing.

We might specify materials such as slate, wood, and stone to give spaces a natural, healthy atmosphere.

In the same vein, we might have glass-exterior walls overlooking landscaped courtyards or natural environments.