Smart Buildings For Retrofit Commercial Buildings 

Smart Buildings For Retrofit Commercial Buildings 

– By Media

February 26, 2024

Net-Zero Carbon Retrofit and the UK’s Historical Buildings 

Commercial buildings are notoriously carbon-intensive. They account for almost 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. There are more than 400 000 historic sites in the UK and more than 70% of the country’s commercial buildings were built before the year 2000. In the race to net-zero and ever-changing climate change regulations, many challenges lie ahead to bring these buildings in line with efficiency requirements.  

What is a commercial retrofit? Retrofitting involved the improvement of existing buildings to make them more efficient, easier to heat (and retain that heat), and with more sustainable features. 

Uncertainty around regulations has seen the UK fall behind in reducing building emissions. There are many misconceptions that have added to the stagnant approach of building owners when it comes to performing building upgrades. One of these is the erroneous belief that new buildings will replace older structures, while it is realistic to assume that 70% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050.  

However, the timeline is shifting with many buildings needing to conduct upgrades by 2030 to remain compliant. It has been said that 3.5 million commercial buildings will require retrofit in the next ten years. Retrofit services to bring buildings in line with emissions thresholds can sometimes amount to millions of pounds.  

Additionally, the rush for services has seen waiting lists for skilled professionals to conduct these retrofits and supply chain strains (which, in turn, has a bearing on cost). This is set to intensify as the deadline comes closer. There is also the need to balance planning and heritage protections with these environmental imperatives – and so retrofit processes must be applied within strict parameters.  

Retrofit or New Build? 

When considering commercial buildings of the future, they must meet net-zero regulations – but they must also optimise occupants’ experiences, be sustainable, resilient, and efficient. Retrofit buildings achieve these aims and ensure compliance into the future.  

New builds don’t come without their challenges. Embodied carbon is the primary concern, derived from the emissions from raw material extraction. Retrofits, on the other hand, present many different opportunities to reduce emissions – from BMS upgrades to whole-system overhauls. Carbon emissions through the building process must be considered. Additionally, while the retrofit may lead to savings, there may be a high initial outlay for the retrofit.  

Benefits beyond net-zero 

As the climate emergency intensifies, the pressure is on for corporate responsibility around environmental factors. Beyond this and the need to meet regulatory pressures, additional benefits and drivers for more efficient buildings include increasing energy prices and the move away from fossil fuels to renewables.  

Other advantages include green finance. Stronger sustainability credentials attract higher capital values and rents. Furthermore, perks around occupant comfort and wellness are strong marketable points for future tenants.  

The role of smart buildings in retrofitting commercial real estate for efficiency 

The UK Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero Programme has been designed to guide stakeholders in the run-up to net-zero regulatory deadlines. Their framework sets out key considerations to balance the expense of making these changes with return on investment.  

At every step, the role of smart building monitoring and the data collected through other smart technologies has the effect of simplifying and guiding the process in terms of priority.  

Understand the Building 

There is no better way to understand a building than through the whole-building visibility provided by real-time data. By monitoring and mapping different key metrics, trends are established and stakeholders can best identify and benchmark areas of improvement and change for efficiency. The data can also provide insight on the challenges, allowing for problem-solving strategies to be devised. 

The business case for commercial building retrofit 

Apart from guiding the processes, the data collected from everyday building operations highlights the value across different processes within the building. This is done through data analytics and reporting. 

While the initial outlay can be off-putting for many building owners, it has been reported that most commercial buildings see a return on investment in these retrofit cases within ten years. 

Scalable smart solutions  

Ideally, the processes put in place for improved efficiency need to be easily replicable and scalable. Smart building monitoring from Smarter Technologies is tailored to every application and is simply scalable, with standardised ways of mapping progress and assessing success. 

This is achieved through centralised reporting of real-time data to a remotely accessible dashboard called SmarterView. This allows for multi-site and complex operations to be consolidated for the purposes of implementing retrofit processes.  

Optimised building management 

The UKGBC recommends optimised building management as a first step in this process. What is monitored can be more effectively managed. The in-depth, granular data supplied through IoT-enabled smart building solutions inspire and achieve data-driven management.  

This encompasses everything from maintenance for efficiency to resource preservation and the prevention of unnecessary waste. It also includes energy conservation, efficiency, and the move to renewable energy sources. Again, the data collected through smart building energy monitoring technologies allows for understanding of consumption and identification of potential savings.  

Understanding the data around energy consumption also means changes can be put in place with minimal disruption to operations and productivity. This removes a significant barrier to entry for many building owners who are focused on continuity. It also feeds back into the importance of the business model for change in this regard.  

Performance monitoring 

Whether implementing staggered retrofit projects or engaging in a new build, setting benchmarks and measuring performance requires data for true reporting and evolving application. The comprehensive, accurate data from smart solutions like those from Smarter Technologies Group provide detailed, standardised monitoring and reporting. 

Futureproof your commercial building with IoT smart technology 

Smart building processes and IoT smart technologies are set to be ubiquitous in driving optimal operations in the buildings of the future. In the race to net-zero, data is a powerful tool to assess retrofit suitability and to create a roadmap geared towards building efficiency.  

Contact Smarter Technologies Group today to find out more about our smart building solutions. 

Contact us today to see how Orion™ The Real-Time Data Network can benefit your business.

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