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How technology can help prolong building lifecycles

Reading big data patterns can help prolong a building’s lifecycle as data analytics tools have come of age

Technology can prolong a building's life cycle.
Technology can prolong a building's life cycle.

Recently, experts voiced their opinion on the importance of understanding big data for buildings, especially with the increase in implementation of IoT-enabled sensors and devices in the built environment.

At a 2017 roundtable, KEO International Consultants’ sustainability head of commissioning, Kevin Sullivan, said that Middle East cities need to look at innovative ways to better manage buildings nearing the end of their lifecycle.

The predicament isn’t always restricted to the built environment. The problem often crops up within new buildings that have several consultants and technologically advanced contractors using the latest BIM systems. Things can also go wrong when contractors leave premises having commissioned the Building Management Systems (BMS).

Navin Valrani CEO of the Al Shirawi Group says that when the FM team takes over a new build project, “the BMS has been wrongly commissioned 90% of the time”.

The building is then at a risk of generating “junk big data” according to Sullivan, making data management an important step on the road to an asset’s lifecycle. Experts agree that data has become a new asset class for organisations, but the complexity of mining data leaves the property market struggling ‘to know what they know’.

Automation has led to vast amounts of nascent data sitting on existing systems, with buildings owners and FM companies unaware or unable to collate and extract insights from it.

Prabhu Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Facilio Inc. gives an insight as to how his firm addresses the matter. “Facilio digitises the whole process from measurement, waste detection and analytics, to facilities management workflow as well as the ‘fix and verify’ process. Ultimately, it manages this entire process in real-time, every day and continuously,” Ramachandran says.

Asset performance is key for maintaining energy efficient buildings. “Facilio’s predictive asset management capabilities, combined with energy analytics allows energy management firms, FM companies and building owners to understand consumption patterns and forecast future performance based on occupancy levels, weather, time of day, and day of week,” Ramachandran states.

Facilio has a predictive energy efficiency feature that helps perceive deviations in energy usage, by identifying irregularities in usage patterns. “A thorough analysis of portfolio-wide energy consumption data is collected, as well as assisted ‘fix and best practice tips’ further serve as validation for investments in sustainability,” Ramachandran says.

He also adds that the investment on BMS and data analytics tools ultimately results in longer building lifespans. “The goal is to ultimately extend a building’s lifecycle in a sustainable manner. And in the case of refurbishments, the aforementioned products are the defining factor between a hard refurb and a soft refurb. It’s not uncommon to see a building — either commercial or residential — to undergo a thorough refurbishment within a decade or 15 years since it was occupied.”

Embedding sustainable practices in day-to-day building operations is one of the best ways to maintain an asset’s health, while involving and engaging all FM teams, tenants and buildings owners can also lead to a lasting impact. “We facilitate this by way of modules that allow sharing relevant data metrics and progress, assessed against established benchmarks, to keep everyone aware, and motivated to contribute to the sustainability drive,” he says.

Taking engagement a step further, Facilio is also in the process of adding tenant portal applications to enable sharing energy performance information with them. “Along with energy retrofits, which includes refreshing the MEP components of an asset, existing usage behaviour and computer aided facilities management can keep a building running strong for decades,” Ramachandran concludes.

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Construction Week - Issue 725
Jan 19, 2019