Pippa Boothman, vice-president of marketing and communications for Disruptive Technologies says that IoT is critical in hitting building sustainability targets

Never before has the building sector been asked to do so much in the name of global sustainability. Whether it’s the Paris Accord, the European Green Deal, or local and regional regulations, facilities managers are being charged with greatly reducing the carbon footprint from these buildings.

It should come as no surprise as to why.

Buildings use about 40% of global resources, 25% of global water, 40% of global energy, and they emit about ⅓ of greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, we’ve seen the increasing pressure on facilities managers to optimise sustainable practices.

According to a World Green Building Council report, every building across the globe needs to be net-zero carbon by 2050 to maintain global warming below 2°C. Despite the fact that new buildings are being designed to produce less GHG emissions, this doesn’t necessarily mean new construction is the answer.

One report on the subject suggests that a brand new “greener” building that is 30% more efficient than the average building will take 10 to 80 years to overcome the damaging carbon footprint impact that comes from the construction.

A better approach, it would appear, is to find a way to retrofit existing buildings so they become more sustainable. Fortunately, IoT technology stands to offer a solution.

How IoT can play an important role

The advancement in wireless sensor technology now enables facilities managers to retrofit older buildings into smart, sustainable buildings quickly, easily, and cost-efficiently.

Here are just some of the ways IoT technology can help reach building sustainability targets.

  • Reduced waste from cleaning - Cleaning staff can optimise their service and schedule based on occupancy and data-driven demand. This reduces the waste of time, energy, and cleaning supplies, which usually come in plastic containers and are difficult to recycle.
  • Remote Monitoring - Many compliance issues engender a significant amount of waste in facilities management. With routine full system flushing, thousands of gallons of water are wasted annually in the prevention of legionella. With remote monitoring, building managers can see when water has flowed through individual sections of pipework, and at what temperature, allowing for targeted action on low-use areas, rather than a blanket approach.
  • Energy efficiency - Full visibility into temperature, occupancy, open doors and windows, building use, and water waste can quickly optimise energy use. Minor behavioural and operational changes make buildings more sustainable.
  • Occupancy Monitoring - Employers and office managers can understand employee working styles to accurately measure and allocate space capacity. That often leads to downsizing and better space allocation, which can shrink an office’s carbon footprint by 30%.

No longer does the idea of making existing buildings more sustainable seem out of reach. The advancement in wireless IoT sensors now makes it possible for facilities managers everywhere to quickly and easily reduce water, energy and resource consumption. This, along with the other measures discussed here, will go a long way to helping our communities reduce their carbon footprint and reach our emissions targets.