Maintenance and Operations, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Unlocking Facility Capabilities with Emerging Technologies

In pursuing net-zero emissions by 2050, facilities managers must ensure that day-to-day operations are being run efficiently while simultaneously finding new solutions to support long-term goals. With buildings in the United States consuming about 40% of the country’s energy, facilities managers must look beyond their standard operational practices to forge a more sustainable future.

Emerging technology can contribute towards reaching net-zero emissions and may also put more control back in facilities managers’ hands. With the development of new technology like digital twins, machine learning, and open platforms, there is an opportunity to tap into these new tech capabilities to reduce emissions and operational costs significantly. Implementing new tech solutions can integrate building innovation and sustainability while improving facilities’ operations.

Interoperability Within Building Systems Can Save Time and Energy

One key aspect of optimizing sustainability in facilities is implementing an open, interoperable platform within the hardware and software building ecosystem. These platforms enable synergy between building applications such as lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and energy efficiency to optimize operations and facilitate smoother data exchange. This allows substantial returns in terms of time and operational costs as well. Research shows that implementing interoperable systems in buildings can save 29% of energy consumption. Open systems play a crucial role in bridging legacy solutions to the latest solutions and allow facilities managers to build on previous investments.

Streamlining Facilities Operations with Emerging Technology

Integrating emerging technologies also plays a role in streamlining facility operations. Machine learning, for example, can analyze previous data to help predict future performance outcomes. With this technology, the data gathered can flag abnormal behaviors and alert facilities managers of potential issues within the operating systems. By using machine learning technology, facilities managers can identify problems within the building ecosystem before they occur, allowing ample time to fix issues and save money in the long run.

Alongside machine learning, digital twin architecture also stands out as a critical enabler of insights into building operations. The rise of digital twins has been widely discussed and continues to grow as implementations expand. Digital twins architecture creates replicas of the physical building ecosystem, allowing real-time monitoring and increasing the efficiency of other technology to help manage operations. Digital twins can work in synergy with machine learning to combine the capabilities of building data and predictions.

Major industries have already begun exploring the adoption of digital twins to help oversee the management of operating systems across their entire building. With digital twins working as the backbone, the applications can be paired together to process and analyze data from different sources to identify issues within a structure. This enhanced control allows operators to identify energy-saving opportunities, refine system performance, and help cut costs.

Facility operators need the right tools to tackle and overcome management challenges, all while assisting broader company efforts to reach net-zero emissions. The future of sustainable building operations relies on integrating applications, providing support for complex systems, and adopting new technology, like the digital twin architecture, machine learning, and open system platforms. To maximize the transformative capabilities, facilities need to explore new emerging technologies and embrace their potential. Through these efforts, facilities managers will be able to optimize performance, drive efficiency, and help achieve sustainability goals for a net-zero emission future.

Sandeep Modhvadia is vice president of product at Acuity Brands overseeing the Atrius platform.

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