Buildings Can Now Tweet Their Crises

Technology is coming to the aid of building owners at an unprecedented pace, even to allowing automatic reporting from air and mechanical systems via Twitter or e-mail direct to remote building maintenance people

15 Feb 2012

With smart building technology it is possible for a central facility to monitor buildings globally.

These smart buildings translate to real hard cost savings in energy consumption and maintenance as well as to boosted returns in terms of tenant quality and asset value.

Adam Bek, General Manager of AE Smith Building Technologies said that the tweeting building is a reality that’s representative of the advances in smart building technology.

Established in 1989, Building Technologies is an independent division of AE Smith, Australia’s largest privately owned mechanical services contractor and a company with no peers in terms of the diversity of in-house services it offers clients.

Building Technologies is the Australian master dealer for American Auto-Matrix, who are leaders in building control systems, and is a major dealer for Niagara which is regarded as the father of open source building automation processes and systems.

From its birth as an AE Smith division established essentially to support the mechanical business, Building Technologies has grown rapidly and is now independently active in the wider market place helping to improve the efficiencies of buildings and their reporting capability.

Their role is to not only help buildings comply with legislative requirements, but with energy targets.

According to Adam, they are often called in to a building in the first instance specifically to help with making it comply with various codes or to ascertain ways to improve the building’s NABERS Energy rating.

“We’re very much a first point of contact because we provide the means to measure and control the building’s HVAC and mechanical services. It’s only when you put in a decent control system to measure, monitor performance and store data that you have the information to tell you how the building’s actually performing,” Adam said.

Such systems are vital to provide the data necessary for developing an acceptable NABERS Energy rating.

Adam, who is also an NABERS Accredited Assessor, said that one of the overlooked factors in both new buildings and refurbishment projects was the proper set-up of a metering system.

“It doesn’t save you energy but it helps you better identify where your energy consumption is and use this information to implement energy saving initiatives. It also allows you to maximise your NABERS rating outcome through excluding applicable energy consumption.

He said one of the fallacies in the industry was an overly long payback on the costs of services upgrades to achieve a desirable NABERS rating on an old building.

“The problems faced by decision makers is not the cost of energy consumption but tenant churn, the value of the tenancy and the value of the asset and it’s here that a NABERS rating helps.

“For example, some Government department may not be able to lease a building with a NABERS rating less than 4.5 stars. Get your building to 4.5 stars and the quality of tenants improves, the return from tenants increases and the value of your asset increases,” Adam said.

Adam’s comments are backed by research reported in 2011 by The Australian Financial Review stating “a 5 star NABERS Energy rated building delivered a 9% value premium to those buildings without ratings… Discounts in rents were seen for [buildings with] lower NABERS Energy ratings.”

The cited research made “a clear link between enhanced green premiums in value with the high rated NABERS energy rating categories.”