Buildings that support occupant happiness and productivity sound great. So what’s the catch? Occupant well-being and happiness is much harder to quantify compared to environmental factors such as energy efficiency. Also, there aren’t yet well-recognized rating systems, although the International WELL Building Institute is making some headway. But the bigger puzzle for the smart building ecosystem to solve is: How much do building conditions really contribute to occupant happiness? How should building investments be balanced with other areas such as IT?
Over the past six months, vendors offering space management solutions have enjoyed a flurry of strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Many of the notable partnerships have been led by integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) suppliers looking to deepen their capabilities in space planning and take advantage of emerging IoT-led technologies for occupancy tracking.
Witness Accruent partnering with Serraview in February 2017, FSI’s partnership with Excitech in December 2016 and FM:Systems’ partnership with CoWorkr in October 2016. IBM is also in a long-standing partnership with IoT start-up Yanzi Networks, a provider of building sensors, to collect detailed data on space utilization and variables that impact well-being.
Given that space management has long been at the heart of IWMS propositions, what is driving all this activity? One factor is the availability of better occupancy data from emerging sensors and beacons enabling a new wave of IoT-led space management solutions to take off.
In addition, increasingly mobile workforces and more flexible desk assignments are creating customer demand for new types of management tools. Partnerships are one way for IWMS vendors to quickly take advantage of emerging technologies across areas such as real-time wayfinding, real-time space analysis and improve visualization analytics. These were factors underlying the Accruent and Serraview partnership…
On March 7, 2017, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) launched a programme to develop a set of global standards for sensors and systems that monitor the range of variables which impact worker well-being (e.g. air quality, light levels and humidity). The IWBI, with partners including the Green Building Council of Australia and RESET, aims to improve the quality of data collected on occupant well-being by providing standards for sensor performance, as well as guidance on how firms can analyse this data. This is a potentially interesting development for software vendors across the real estate, energy and facilities information management (REEFIM) market – it has the potential to improve the quality and consistency of well-being data.
Improving occupant well-being continues to be one of the hottest themes across the REEFIM market. Suppliers are positioning existing and new service offerings around occupant well-being, on the promise it can boost productivity and help to reduce absenteeism. For example, Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) vendor Planon collects and analyses data on lighting levels, thermal comfort and air quality, to provide recommendations to customers for improving occupant comfort. Honeywell has developed the Occupant Vector App to allow workers to provide feedback on thermal comfort levels. Mitie is piloting an Intelligent Buildings Solution which looks to boost worker productivity and concentration by optimising internal environments…