Smart office solutions to use energy more efficiently
One of the key ways to make an office smart is to enable building managers to use insights from sensors installed in the building to make intelligent decisions about a building’s energy consumption and occupancy levels, explains Sumit Padmakar Joshi, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Signify Innovations India (previously Philips Lighting). Signify’s Interact platform is one such connected lighting solution that delivers insights to help customers drive operational efficiencies and take more effective decisions to lower their electricity consumption, and track occupancy levels, breakdowns and repair and maintenance data.
Smart offices often experience 5-20 per cent HVAC energy savings by preventing over-conditioning and widening temperature set points in unoccupied spaces, shares Devidas Kulkarni, Head, Regional Solutions & Services, Smart Infrastructure, Siemens India.
Essentially, smart offices bring all electrical and mechanical services under a single platform, explains Prakasan TP, Chief Operating Officer, MEP Business, Sterling and Wilson. “Micro-level monitoring and energy audits is one big difference between a traditional office and a smart office. A second difference is that the HVAC architecture in traditional offices is largely discrete, consisting of VRVs, cassette ACs and indoor split ACs kept running with manual intervention without proper scheduling, which, in turn, results in energy wastage. But in smart offices, a centralised HVAC plant and structured cooling system cater to the heat load based on data fed by sensors, with variable drives, all of which are controlled by the building automation system to drive energy savings.”
Ideally, the integrated building management system should use a smart, robust and open platform to connect disparate systems such as heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, mechanical, electrical, fire, security, lighting, etc, suggests Kulkarni.
“A smart office monitors not only the amount of energy consumed but energy distribution and quality of energy being consumed,” adds Sanjay Sudhakaran, Vice-President, Digital Energy, Greater India Zone, Schneider Electric. “For instance, LED lighting and VRV drives are known to increase harmonics in a system, which adversely impacts its life. Monitoring helps detect, control and mitigate this adverse impact.”
At the One Horizon Centre, a 24-storey (plus four basement) office building in Golf Course, Gurugram, a Sterling and Wilson project, the HVAC system, electrical system, diesel generator and lifts are integrated in a single command-and-control centre. The host of solutions that help manage the facility include systems for building automation, surveillance, energy monitoring, physical security, attendance, parking and visitor management and access control.
Building analytics in a smart office extends to managing the resources available for users, such as conference rooms, says Sudhakaran. For instance, Schneider Electric’s solution helps people identify an available conference room of the right size for a meeting, and its navigation facility helps workers get there—a boon for new recruits in very large offices.
“Discerning users expect to use technology such as an app for booking meeting rooms and they want meeting room screens that work seamlessly with their device,” observes Bipratip Dhar, Principal Architect, Epsilon Architecture.
The practical impact of analytics technology lies is the greater wellbeing of office-users. “When we worked on the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, one of India’s first Platinum-rated green buildings, we asked employees what they felt was different about the building,” reveals Rahul Kumar, Principal Architect, Rajinder Kumar & Associates (RKA). “‘I don’t get tired by 4 pm’ was a common response, which goes to show the positive impact of workplace smartness on employee well-being.”
- CHARU BAHRI