Smart Thinking for Smart Planning: Conservation

Our final entry on asking the right questions before launching a design-build project for a smart building covers what may be the most important aspect—or benefit—of smart buildings.

Here’s what Conserve means to us.

How will:

  • the building reach environmental, health, and safety goals?
  • it contribute to sustainability?
  • it make the most efficient use of space?
  • it reduce overhead and waste?
  • it make operations more efficient and reliable?
  • it conserve, or even generate, energy? What about water use?

To monitor occupancy, we could use automated sensors and run the data through analytics to reduce office footprints and close down unused workstations.

Other automated systems could audit energy use and point out where energy can be saved, or where alternative sources might be tapped. In retail, for instance, even a 10% reduction in energy costs is like gaining $25/sq ft on floor space.

For landscaping or sanitation, rainwater could be captured along with the installation of a grey water system.

We could use solar panels or even solar glass to generate our own electricity and sell power back to the grid during off-peak hours.

If the building houses manufacturing, we might use waste heat to generate electricity.

Smart waste bins and robotic sorting, along with RFID tracking and fill sensors, could detect materials that can be recycled and reused.

In terms of the actual use of the space, we could use sensors and automated analytics to adjust the lighting and temperature accordingly; for example, turning down heating when the space is not being occupied.

For roofing, we could specify a green roof to absorb rainfall, provide greater insulation, and help pull CO₂ out of the air around the building.

When considering conservation pertaining to people and energy, we could design inviting outdoor areas with walkways to encourage lunchtime walks, or beautiful stairs to encourage climbing and exercise.

Materials also come into play, and we could specify materials such as slate, wood, and stone to give spaces a natural, healthy atmosphere.

In the same vein, we could have glass exterior walls overlooking landscaped courtyards or natural environments.

All in all, there are many aspects and options that could be explored when it comes to conservation in construction. Ingenuity is mindful to present these alternatives and solutions to our clients when we plan out our projects.