Posted on 27 March 2019

You can teach old buildings smart new tricks

Buildings are currently responsible for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of its CO2 emissions. For that reason, we’ve come to expect and demand that new buildings are designed and built to minimise environmental impact. But, what about our older buildings?

Razing old buildings to the ground is simply not realistic from a financial, logistical or cultural heritage point of view. Making our existing buildings energy efficient is one of the major challenges we face, as we look to make our cities more sustainable. Retro-fitting and renovation will be key to reaching our environmental targets.

Specifically, smart building sensors are vital to providing greater user information. We can now monitor and manage building usage and energy consumption in ways unthinkable only a few years ago. When you have the data on room occupation and energy usage, you can reduce energy consumption by making responsive adjustments to lighting and comfort systems.

Giving Alkmaar a green facelift

Alkmaar, in the North Holland province of the Netherlands, has completely remodelled its municipal offices over the last two years. They had a vision of open, flexible spaces to encourage collaborative working. And, they wanted to provide a healthy, pleasant environment for their employees.

As part of the renovation project, Alkmaar’s offices are now equipped with bGrid’s smart-sensor node network. These sensors record the physical conditions in the building, such as lighting, climate and space usage.

The end-user application makes it easy for employees to locate their colleagues around the building. They can simply use their smartphone to find out where people are, and which desks and meeting rooms are available. This helps make them more productive and encourages colleagues to talk to each other.

It is early days for this project, in terms of data collection and analysis. But, bGrid’s technology enables Alkmaar’s data science team to monitor temperature, humidity, lighting and occupancy levels across the entire building. In the future, this data will help them reduce energy use and save money by better allocation of resources.

The physical environment affects the way we work

There have also been other benefits, such as improved employee engagement and wellbeing. “Our employees are starting to enjoy the benefits of flexible working and bGrid’s technology is helping people to adapt,” explains Alkmaar’s Project Manager Patrick Lagendijk.

This Alkmaar local government project demonstrates that smart building technology can be hugely beneficial, even when working within the constraints of existing buildings and limited budgets. You can read the full Alkmaar case study here.

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