Smart Buildings Save Money and Improve Productivity

You know that efficiencies save money, but did you also know they can turn office buildings into both an economical and sustainable place where employees will love to work. Smart buildings are all about improving efficiency by eliminating redundancies, using less energy and automating systems This frees up office space and resources, which help make employees more productive.

In a push to reduce federal agencies' impact on the government and improve sustainability, the President ordered all government workplaces reduce their energy levels 28% by 2020. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has proved to be a leading example for this task, by making their old, inefficient buildings, which used a great deal of energy, greener and smarter.

The strategy is to enable staff to take a holistic view of buildings including building systems, occupants, the environment, energy sources, operating policy, and operating expenses. For example, as part of the renovation of its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., GSA implemented fully integrated building and employee management systems.

To start, GSA collected data and measured the actual use of their existing office space and realized it was over 50% vacant on a daily basis due to constantly changing work patterns and a highly mobile workforce. Recognizing this vacancy as an opportunity, they took the next step of consolidating several leased locations that housed 4,500 workspaces in total and enabled an owned property, the 1800 F HQ building, to support the entire workforce. During the renovation, GSA created 50,000 more usable square feet of office space and increased the number of employees who work out of the building to 3,300 from 2,200. A key element for this to work is office hoteling, which at GSA allows worker-to-workspace ratios of 2:1 and higher. Employees now work in mostly open spaces and use AgilQuest's OnBoard hoteling software (referred to as Book-It) to reserve desks and conference rooms in advance and are encouraged to telework to avoid travel and further decrease the carbon footprint.

Once the real estate footprint was reduced, it was time to make the remaining space as efficient as possible with Smart Building technology. GSA created one of the finest smart buildings in the United States today. They redesigned and updated the original structure to make it work for today's workforce. Their environmental impact was made even more positive by the adaptive re-use of their existing structure at 1800 F. They integrated 1800 F building systems into a single, addressable and measureable infrastructure. Mechanical and electrical systems such as lighting, security, HVAC, digital signage, networks, and power were knitted together as an integrated whole, maximizing savings by making the right-sized amount of space as efficient as possible without impacting productivity. These building systems were even integrated with OnBoard so as people check in and out of workspaces or conference rooms, the lighting and HVAC will turn on or off automatically.

By integrating Smart Occupancy with Smart Building systems and processes, GSA has more efficiently used employee time, maximized their building utilization and improved sustainability to the next level. Employees waste less of their time by commuting less often, they enjoy greater workplace choice and productivity numbers often improve. The organization receives lower real estate costs, energy consumption and carbon footprint, with the added benefit of improved business continuity. The sustainability advantages include reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions from the building, plus those resulting from reduced commuting.

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