The Way to Better Buildings

OP COMMERCIALBy Udi Meirav

For decision makers in the construction industry, keeping on top of the trends and best practices in building design can be an ongoing challenge as business priorities constantly shift to address changes in the market. 

Of course, energy efficiency is increasingly important as companies keep a close eye on the bottom line and look to improve the competitiveness of their operations for greater cost savings. In addition, indoor air quality (IAQ) in buildings is of increasing concern. A recent study by Harvard University indicated that even modest improvements to IAQ may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers. Because of this, builders have to consider the needs of building owners, who are faced with growing apprehension from their tenants and workers about the quality of air and the environment where they work.

Given these challenges, the commercial building industry is hungry for innovative new solutions to achieve better, more cost-effective and energy efficient building designs. The following are some best practices to consider:

Reducing Costs with New Technologies 

Finding new ways to reduce capital expenses (CAPEX) is top of mind for many decision-makers in construction. Normally, decreasing your CAPEX also decreases the quality of the building and increases operating expenses (OPEX) down the road. However, the good news is that there have been some incredible strides made with innovative new technologies that can reduce those first costs for builders – and, at the same time, bring down long-term operational and maintenance costs. For example, most commercial HVAC systems maintain indoor air quality by replacing all the indoor air with outside air as often as every one to two hours. Not only is it expensive to heat or cool so much outside air, but it is very expensive to purchase equipment with so much HVAC capacity. Consider using new technologies like HVAC load reduction (HLR) modules that can decrease the amount of outside air needed, thus reducing both HVAC CAPEX and OPEX.

Prioritizing Sustainability and Air Quality

Building green and prioritizing sustainability efforts is no longer a question in designing and building commercial properties. Sustainability these days means not only boosting energy efficiency, but also providing healthy air quality that has been directly linked to occupant productivity. A great example of this growing trend on air quality is the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) pilot credit for Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP). Implementing IAQP and HLR has enabled some customers to achieve more than 10 LEED credits. Another proof point of this trend towards better air quality is to see some of the recent technology demonstrations endorsed by the Department of Energy that focus on products that combine better air quality with energy efficiency. 

Tapping the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn't just the latest buzzword in the industry – it is opening doors to new opportunities for better and more efficient buildings. There are now solutions that allow for smarter management and monitoring of buildings, along with detailed reporting of building performance and efficiencies. For example, some new HVAC technologies enable 24/7 monitoring of indoor air quality and provide safe air cleaning to improve tenant satisfaction, health and productivity. And not only are your customers now asking for these types of capabilities – they're starting to expect them.Try to find a solution that puts the air quality data on the cloud so that tenants can see the good air quality readings it acts as a big differentiator when compared to other buildings.  

Future-Proofing Your Buildings

You have a reputation to protect as an industry leader, and it is imperative that the buildings you are involved with are designed to handle whatever the future brings. Whether that includes variations in temperature resulting from climate change, increased building occupancy or higher outside air pollution, it is critical to be forward-thinking and make decisions that will extend the life of your building. Questions to consider include: what changes might happen in the lifetime of this building and how likely are those changes? In thinking ahead, youll strengthen your reputation for good design and ensure a better future for yourself and the building's occupants.

Udi Meirav is CEO and co-founder of Boston-based enVerid Systems Inc., a leader in energy savings and indoor air quality solutions for commercial, educational and government buildings. 

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