Today’s consumers have become increasingly dependent on controlling many aspects of their daily lives via mobile apps and voice control with smart technology. The current global pandemic and social distancing regulations have placed an increased interest on reducing public person-to-person and touch interactions, and the commercial sector has begun to discuss how changes will be made to new and existing buildings across various commercial settings to keep people safe while keeping costs down.
In the last few years, smart technology has become a larger part of the conversation as building management and other stakeholders have started to recognize the opportunity in using technology to streamline operations, save on costs and create better end-user experiences. In fact, a report from Mordor Intelligence found that “the smart building market is expected to register a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of over 23% over the forecast period (2020-2025). Growing energy concerns and increasing government initiatives on smart infrastructure projects are driving the market’s growth positively.”
To support this growth, the commercial sector is beginning to widely adopt wireless mesh technology that has been utilized heavily in the residential space for years that provides interoperable ecosystems and scalability. These types of products can be installed in systems from small conference rooms to large, multistory office or multidwelling unit buildings – all while offering the same level of protection and functionality. System reliability is a hallmark, and mesh networks gain strength as more devices are added to a system. These technologies use a sub GHz frequency, eliminating common interference with Wi-Fi or other 2.4 GHz signals and, more importantly, it is much more effective transmitting through building materials, thus making it more reliable for smart building functionality.
Many professionals who install automation systems understand that the benefits of smart technology are a great fit for commercial projects like multidwelling units, hospitality and offices that can help save business owners on energy costs and streamline security and efficiency procedures.
Business owners of small or large commercial buildings can save and monitor energy expenditures with smart building devices. Lights, electronics and climate control can automatically be adjusted based on weather and seasonal conditions, or turned off in unoccupied meeting rooms and retail stores, or after business hours – resulting in major savings on utility costs.
For example, when hotel management at the Hotel Kiris, located in the south of Italy, began noticing that energy consumption was having a major impact on their profitability and bottom line, they leveraged an RFID badge in combination with a wall pocket and an automated Z-Wave system so that the owner of the hotel could monitor electrical consumption from each individual room and switch ON/OFF power supply to a single room whenever he deemed it necessary.
Control of the lighting in commercial spaces is becoming just a part of how the lighting is designed. Human-centric lighting is a holistic approach that includes all aspects of how lighting affects occupant well-being, productivity and comfort in the built environment. Lighting temperature or color can be adjusted to reflect the sun’s lighting and time of day, reduce eye strain from computer screens, and reduce fatigue from long days in the office.
These days, there are many companies providing smart LED lighting that is highly customizable and can be used to customize lighting to fit any desired mood or atmosphere. Inovelli, for example, offers an expansive portfolio of lighting products that can be modified through the full color spectrum which includes 16 million colors, warm or cold white (and everything in between), all with the touch of a button.
Smart security devices like panels, cameras, alarms, door locks and more can work together in combination with the larger smart building system to monitor and secure an office building, hotel or retail space. Locations can be armed and disarmed remotely and will send notifications via phone, text or email if there is unusual activity detected. Controlled access to specific areas within a building is easily deployed.
Smart technology makes the day-to-day operation of commercial businesses more efficient. With just one touch of a tablet, smartphone or computer, business owners can turn on the lights, open the shades, adjust the temperature, arm security, lock the doors and more, optimizing efficiencies and streamlining operations. Smart devices also help to set a welcoming environment and optimal comfort for staff and employees.
Demand for smart building technology is growing exponentially across various industry verticals and moving well beyond the smart home and into commercial applications like property management, health care/elder care, insurance and others. This growth is creating a greater amount of product choice and a whole new market of opportunity for today’s integrators to better serve their customers and grow their businesses.
Mitchell Klein is the executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance.