Scott Collins, project executive with Bedrock, is an advocate of smart buildings. That’s an easy term to throw around, but for his real estate portfolio it means a conversion of buildings with inefficient, siloed systems to buildings that communicate their operations 24/7, sharing their operation with a command centre that monitors all building systems. Where 80 engineers were once required to operate individual buildings, the command centre employs 20 highly efficient engineers, connected to all of the buildings.
“Whether you start big and entirely replace a building’s systems or start small and just chip away at a building’s pain points, you’re going to achieve significant savings through efficiency,” he says.
For most of Collins’ portfolio, building systems are generally replaced, including mechanical, electrical, security and HVAC.
“By combining the systems into one integrated system, we achieve a lot of efficiency,” he says. “For example, think of a building where a thermal sensor tells the HVAC system to keep the building heated to exactly 75 F. If I combine that system with a smart monitoring system, I might reprogram that heating system to pre-warm the building early in the morning at 6 a.m. when energy costs are lower, instead of later when they’re expensive and ultimately save money.”
While Collins understands the value of LEED — he’s LEED accredited — often smart building principles can trump LEED points for direct benefits, he says.
“If my building HVAC system is instructed to heat a certain amount of outside air and mix it with indoor air, it will cost a consistent amount of money,” Collins says. “LEED may in fact reward my building for bringing in additional outside air. But suppose I install a CO2 sensor that tells me that oxygen levels inside the building are more than adequate and I modify the intake to mix eight per cent of outside air instead of 10. I would save a considerable amount of energy over a year’s time.”