Wireless IoT sensors offer flexibility in installation placement and network expansion without the need to open walls or run cables.

The demands on our office buildings have changed.  Fewer people are occupying these spaces, and more building owners, planners, and facility executives are valuing flexibility, digitalization, and energy efficiency.  Employees, who are gradually returning to the office, want assurances of a virus-free space, not to mention a comfortable, healthy, and safe environment.  Meanwhile, buildings still account for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions through their embodied energy as well as their operation.

Because intelligent networked spaces can balance these multidimensional objectives, they are increasingly capturing the attention of executives and managers.  IoT sensors measuring occupancy, carbon dioxide, noise, and light have been in use for years, but their costs have come down.  At the same time, they are becoming easier to install and maintain.  By obtaining their energy from sources in their immediate surroundings, such as occupant movement, light, and temperature differences, sensors can operate without wires and batteries.  Consequently, an owner can gain the benefits of sensors without worrying about energy supply and consumption.

IoT sensor benefits in smart spaces

Because few offices will be fully occupied for the full work week for the foreseeable future, many workstations will sit unused.  Through desk-sharing and hybrid working models alone, employers can save up to 30% of costs for furniture, energy, and rent. IoT sensors can record how many people are in a room and monitor which workstations and areas are in use, allowing owners, operators, and planners to digitally map and optimize space.

Information on desk availability can direct energy management decisions and notify employees in real-time which workstations are available.  Employees can then situate themselves in areas with their preferred temperature, with specific colleagues for team activities, or with the technical equipment needed for their task.

Unused desks can also be significant energy and capital consumers.  In areas rarely or sporadically in use, temperature and solar sensors can inform heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting controls to adjust automatically if these systems communicate on the same network.  Data on space utilization can help identify areas rarely in use, which in turn can help companies decide whether to continue leasing them.

Carbon dioxide sensors can maintain or even increase worker productivity; more importantly, they can maintain employee health by monitoring room air quality and CO2 levels.  If 10 employees spend about an hour in a meeting room without sufficient ventilation, their bodies will feel as if they each had consumed two glasses of wine—at that point, productive work is hardly possible.  Sensors can alert occupants when CO2 concentration is approaching a critical level and increase airflow into the space, whether through mechanical systems or by notifying occupants to open windows.


Author: Raoul Wijgergangs   Smart Buildings Technology