A BEMS Solution Can Help Ensure Optimized Building Environments
Building owners and facility managers are constantly monitoring building conditions while balancing performance and occupant comfort with the cost associated with running a building efficiently. Even more is at stake for hospitals and schools because building conditions also have a significant impact on the productivity and health of the students, teachers, patients and doctors.
These demands come at a time when schools and hospitals are faced with limited financial and staff resources. Facility managers must find ways to positively impact the building they manage by improving the building environment for optimized occupant comfort and health, while still meeting energy efficiency goals and the bottom line.
Implementing a building energy management system (BEMS) solution – with the right partner that understands these challenges – can help address these issues and deliver the results facility managers and building owners seek.
When implementing a BEMS solution, there are many service providers on the market to choose between. Deciding to go beyond a software-only solution and leverage the expertise of a partner helps drive better outcomes and uncover more opportunities for greater improvements. This strategy helps facility managers validate that improvements are working as they should to impact the building environment and sustain savings.
Key Issues for Schools and Hospitals
The environment within the building is critical for schools and hospitals in several ways. For hospitals, factors such as indoor air quality (IAQ) and humidity can impact patient infection rates and operating room outcomes. This is important not only for patient health and safety and the performance of hospital staff, but also for affecting the bottom line. For example, financial reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare are determined in part by quality metrics, including patient outcomes.
IAQ and humidity are also important environmental issues in schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analyzed multiple studies that demonstrate a connection between improvements in IAQ and improved performance of children and adults in the classroom. Test scores and student attendance are two important drivers in decision-making for school administrators.
An experienced BEMS provider can take a holistic view of the building to help facility managers determine their priorities and critical areas within a building – including key performance indicators related to IAQ – to develop and implement an improvement plan to fit specific needs and budgets. They can help link building performance to IAQ and environmental outcomes that are most important for schools and hospitals – and their occupants.
Steps for Improvement
Buildings are full of potential and provide many sources of valuable data that can be used to gain insight into the facility. Technology makes it easier than ever before to gather data, but having the right partner helps turn that data into actionable intelligence.
Understanding how the building is supposed to perform – and how it’s actually performing – is a key to creating an energy baseline and prioritizing building needs. Harnessing the array of data sources in a building helps facility managers make more targeted decisions regarding building systems. Making better decisions can help schools and hospitals meet the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important to them, such as student performance, teacher attendance, doctor retention and patient satisfaction.
Choosing a BEMS provider that acts as an extension of the building staff helps eliminate the need for school and hospital facilities staff to “chase fires,” and allows them to be more proactive in their jobs — focusing on the areas that impact the building environment and cost savings.
Determining KPIs, creating a plan for improvement and choosing a partner to help with implementation are just the beginning. The next step is following up with an execution plan and ongoing validation of the results. This evaluation helps yield continued improvements and savings.
A BEMS solution provides performance data to not only make a case for implementing the plan, but also the information to validate against KPIs to measure and demonstrate the return on investment once the project is implemented.
Validating that improvements and investments are producing the expected results can be especially important for schools and hospitals that are publicly funded facilities. Demonstrating the success of project improvements can be critical for ensuring continued ongoing financial or community support of the plan — and for gaining support for any future improvements.
The follow-up and validation required may be harder to execute with a software- or technology-only solution. Working through the process with a partner offers more robust ongoing support and analysis. A partner also brings deep expertise in conducting continuous evaluation and can tailor the process for specific buildings and situations. Facility managers and building owners should make sure to balance the cost of the validation with the scale of the project.
Options to Optimize the Environment
Ensuring that building systems are performing as they should to optimize the environment for occupants is a significant consideration for schools and hospitals.
While improving building performance – and often as a result, energy efficiency – can involve technology and equipment solutions, it’s also about having the information and knowledge to run a building smartly.
Consider working with a BEMS partner that can take a holistic view of building systems and performance – and has the expertise to tie building performance back to critical outcomes. The right provider will deliver solutions that balance efficiency and comfort with the results that matter most to schools and hospitals.
Matt Gates is the director of Intelligent Services Offers for Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. In this role, Gates manages a portfolio of building energy management systems (BEMS) solutions and leads the efforts to commercialize new and differentiated Intelligent Services offers for North America. Over the course of Matt’s 11 years with Ingersoll Rand, he has held the positions of vice president of energy management services – global services, vice president of contracting solutions – global services, direct sales leader and contracting solutions leader for Trane’s central territory.