WELL building standard and indoor air quality

What is the WELL building standard?

WELLBritish employees will tell you how hard they work and they are right; these days we are spending more time in the office than any other EU country except Austria and Germany.  How can the time spent indoors be made more comfortable and agreeable? It’s hard to isolate one sole influence that affects productivity when in fact there are many to consider. Studies have shown that despite an average working day of 8 hours you’re probably only productive for around 3 of those. The WELL Building Standard is a set of best practices and guidelines focused on human health and wellness. The culmination of seven years of evidence-based medical research in partnership with leading scientists, doctors, architects and wellness thought leaders was pioneered by Delos.  WELL is based on medical research on the health and wellness impacts of the buildings we spend most of our time in.  

WELL certification concentrates on performance and requires a ‘pass’ score in these seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. With WELL certification awarded at one of three levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum, it is now much easier to gauge the gaps between comfort, well being and employee work output.

What variables are likely to impact productivity?

There is much research showing the effects of lighting, noise, temperature, and CO2 on our productivity.

Poor lighting makes us sleepy

That lull in energy you’re feeling might not be a sugar crash after all. Don’t blame it all on cake. There is a marked connection between light and productivity amongst other key factors. Daylight and “blue-enriched light bulbs” help employees stay alert by lowering melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy. But that’s not the only factor at play here influencing our alertness.

Breath of fresh air

We are less conscientious of air quality, but poor indoor air quality also cuts productivity. Insufficient ventilation concentrates pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide (CO2). High CO2 levels have been shown to reduce concentration, attention span, and memory in classrooms.

The adverse effects of poor air quality can be dangerous (see Sick Building Syndrome).

To address these issues companies are recycling indoor air to maintain healthy CO2 levels.

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Noise reduces concentration

Clacking keyboards, co-workers yakking away and phones ringing are some of the common gripes employees give for the reduction in their concentration. World GBC’s 2016 report estimates that productivity dropped by 66% in performance and concentration due to ambient noise distractions.

http://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/building-business-case-health-wellbeing-and-productivity-green-offices

Adjust your thermostat

It’s probably no surprise that with high temperatures (over 32C), productivity declines but the same is true when the temperature decreases below 15C, making people less focused on work and thus less productive. A 2004 study links fewer typing errors and higher productivity when work spaces are warm enough. Let’s not forget about humidity either as that affects perceived temperature and comfort levels so keeping a good level of it is key to maintaining a healthy and productive office environment.

Sensors improve workspace

Our clients use sensors for light, noise, temperature, and CO2, as well as measuring air quality (i.e. particulates) and various gasses including potentially harmful ones (e.g. VOC and CO) to monitor the workplace environment and help create healthier surroundings. Pollution in large cities is increasingly problematic and it is vital that HVAC systems successfully filter out pollutants and gases from the outside world so employees can go about their days confident they are not compromising their well being just by going to work. OpenSensors aggregates data from a variety of sensors for the next generation of smart Building Management Systems and with experience in helping companies combine data from new workplace sensors, even interoperating it seamlessly with existing systems is easily done. We also operate the world’s largest repository of air quality data and process over 10 million sensor messages per day – that’s the equivalent of one message each for the entire population of Portugal!  

Conclusion

It has never been easier to measure environmental factors within buildings and analyse the data to give a fully comprehensive overview. Companies can optimise employee well being and efficiency using data from light, noise, temperature, and CO2 sensors with unprecedented ease.  A win win for everyone.

 

BisNow Future of Real Estate Conference

The uptake of new technologies such as the Internet of Things is accelerating in Commercial Real Estate.

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OpenSensor’s CEO and Founder Yodit Stanton was a guest speaker on a panel for Bisnow’s ‘Future of Real Estate Event’ brought the most innovative & creative industry players.

The uptake of new technologies such as the Internet of Things is accelerating in Commercial Real Estate, with a significant % of landlords, occupiers and contractors taking part in deployments and developing a comprehensive plan of action with regards to integration.

The benefits to the property world, will be seen in terms of workplace efficiencies, energy savings and employee’s wellbeing. It was clear that the savvy technology buyers of smart buildings understood that these benefits would only be delivered by demanding technology providers integrate seamlessly with all products of the built environment.

With the significant traction that sensing technologies are gaining in the marketplace, technology companies will be rightly held to a high standard on interoperability with existing systems.

Next Generation of Workspaces Event

OpenSensors co-hosted panelists who gave their views of the current state of data driven workspaces

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OpenSensors co-hosted a panel for invited guests on the Future of Workspaces with Cushman & Wakefield. The panel also included Yodit Stanton, CEO of OpenSensors, Uli Blum, Architect at Zaha Hadid and Simon Troup, Founder of Fractalpha. Juliette Morgan, a Partner at Cushman & Wakefield moderated the panel. It was a lively crowd with a sense of urgency – wanting the future now!

Key takeaways

Our panelists gave a view of the current state of data driven workspaces through their different lenses.

Data driven world

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For Uli Blum, Architect at Zaha Hadid the world is increasingly driven by data. It gives us much more understanding of the technical aspects of how people work and are living in our spaces. He shared about different work styles, variations of acoustics across a floor, lighting conditions, proxemics, adjacencies, and connectivity. Zaha Hadid wants to better understand all of these aspects and take into account in design.

Competitive edge

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Simon Troup, Founder of Fractalpha shared how with data you are trying to find that secret sauce that differentiates you from the competition. He gave an example from the financial market where having access to early data before your competition is a huge edge over them.

 

 

IoT traction

yoditYodit Stanton, CEO at OpenSensors shared about the traction she was seeing, the practical side of how companies are deploying sensors and how to get started. Lots of people are putting in desk meeting room footfall sensors and trying to understand how many people are in the space and how to design better. But we also see combining this workspace occupancy data with facilities data from access control and building management systems for a full view of what is happening.

Savvy Building Managers Use Sensors to Reduce Operating Expenses

Offices and commercial spaces are undergoing a revolutionary transformation

Sensor networks are emerging as a mission critical method for offices and commercial spaces to save money. Offices and commercial spaces are undergoing a smart transformation by connecting and linking HVAC, lighting, environmental sensors, security, and safety equipment. Building and facilities managers are also installing utilization sensors to manage their spaces more efficiently.

Main benefits of data driven buildings * Operational efficiency * Use data for better design * Better workspace experience for employees

Changing workforce

Recently we helped a company design a prototype of a desk sensor monitoring system. Because so many of their people were working from home they wanted to accurately measure the peak demand during the day to see if they could save 10-20% of their desk space. Goals for the system were: * Monitor desk occupancy anonymously. * Minimize installation and deployment costs: rely on solutions that were simple enough that existing non-expert personnel could be trained to deploy. * Minimize day-to-day maintenance and deployment: this drove strategies for long battery life among others. * Design a deployment process that ensured install team could easily add sensor location metadata to allow for rich reporting and analysis once IoT sensor network was operational. * Limit the IT resources needed for deployment

The phased approach works best

First, we looked at many sensors, evaluating quality, signal-to-noise ratio and power consumption. It’s always a good idea to get a handful of different types of sensors and try them out in a very small scale. We chose an infrared red sensor with good battery life-time and a single LoRa gateway that could support all the floors and provide connection to the cloud.

Next we did a full end-to-end test, where we hooked up 5-10 sensors up completely to a cloud infrastructure all the way through the connectivity gateway. Now we had real data flowing into the infrastructure and could verify that the queries and analytics were feasible. This step just makes sure everything works as planned and you will get all the data that you will need.

Once you’re happy with the proof of concept phase, it is time for the real pilot phase. Instead of having just a handful of working sensors, now you’ll hook up an entire floor or a street or whatever your use case might be. It should be somewhere between thirty, forty, maybe up to a hundred sensors. At this point you can ensure that the sensors work at scale and the gateway can handle the load. Typically we see customers running these for a month or two to get a good feel for how the sensors will perform in a production situation.

After the pilot phase, you should have enough data to verify network performance and your choices for sensors and gateways. Now you can plan the full deployment in detail. It’s been our experience, based on a number of customer installations, that the most successful IoT networks follow these steps in a phased implementation approach.

The technology at the silicon, software, and system level continues to evolve rapidly and our aim is to reduce the time to go live and minimise risk. The internet of things is a nebulous term that includes quite a lot of specialised skillsets such as sensor manufacturing, network design, data analysis, etc.

In order to make projects successful, we have taken the approach of building many hardware, installation and network provider partnerships, and relationships to help customers succeed as opposed to trying to do it all ourselves. We have been working with customers to develop methods to lower the sensor density and in turn lower the cost of projects whilst still getting comparable accuracy.

Contact us if you would like assistance on sensor selection, network design, or planning a proof of concept deployment.

The Path to Smart Buildings

The need for good, informed design within buildings

Google ‘principles of good architectural design’ and you’ll get links to technology, to buildings and all manner of other services. But it’s hard to find principles of design for the tech services that facilitate smart buildings. Let’s remind ourselves what a smart building is with the help of sustainable tech forum; ‘The simple answer is that there’s automation involved somehow that makes managing and operating buildings more efficient’. So the need is well documented but we want to bridge to the ‘practice of designing and constructing buildings’, after all that’s what architecture is about.

OpenSensors hosted its first Smart Building Exchange (SBeX) event in September, and we are grateful to the panelists and attendees who made it such a success. Our goal was to bridge the gap between widely documented features of smart buildings and the tech that underpins it. Through our workshops we decomposed tenant needs and identified services to support them using the value proposition canvas. We borrow from lean product design principles since building operators need to rapidly innovate using processes inherited from startups. Mapping the pains and gains of users to the features and products of the tech stack revealed a common theme, data infrastructure. Data is the new commodity that new services will be built upon, some will be open and others private, but data will be the currency of the next generation smart building.

Take integrated facilities management (IFM) where data serves the desire to deliver better UX at a lower cost with fewer outages. IFM has pivoted from a set of siloed software services to a set of application services overlaid upon a horizontal data infrastructure. For example:

  • Data science services will develop to identify ‘rogue’ devices operating outside expected patterns, they will identify assets that need inspection or replacement and schedule maintenance works using time and cost optimisation routines.
  • Digital concierge services will use personal devices, location based technology and corporate data (calendar and HR data) to optimise both user experience and spacial allocation.

So can we identify a tech architecture to support this pivot from monolithic apps? Data services facilitated by a central messaging backbone allows the complexity of building services to be broken down and tackled one service at a time, lowering the risk failure and allowing agile iterations at a reduced cost. Take the pillars of data driven applications for IFM as identified by our workshop group; predictive/reactive alerting and tactical/strategic reporting, how might we go about servicing these needs? Consider how the path to smart buildings outlined below could help build an IFM product.

  • Build the value proposition founded on a clear vision of what your users want.
  • Identify the data that will drive your smart building product including open data
  • Identify the sensors needed to gather your data, they could be mobile devices or occupancy sensors
  • Identify connectivity from the sensor to your data infrastructure, this might be radio to IP connected gateways or directly onto the local network via POE (power over ethernet)
  • Structure your message payloads and commit to schemas to deliver repeatable processes for message parsing and routing within your building
  • Configure your events turning your data into information using rules based platforms for IoT such as node red
  • Build widgets and data services that can be bound together for dashboarding. By identifying common user needs across the enterprise we can operate a leaner system stack
  • Build user portals and dashboards using your common data services and components
  • Validate tenant user experience through surveys and modelling tenant behaviour using occupancy devices
  • Iterate to improve using data gathered throughout the building to deliver better products and experiences

OpenSensors has firmly backed Open Source and Open Data as the best way to yield value from the Internet of Things choosing to collaborate with the tech community to enable facilities managers to build higher order systems focused on their domain expertise. Please contact commercialteam@opensensors.io should you have a need for a smart building workshop or are ready to build your next generation smart building product.

Don’t Make Me Think

Unlocking great user experience in buildings boils down to data

Expect the early adopters of ‘enchanted’ buildings to be our employers, the world green building council estimate we spend 10% of our costs on facilities management, 90% is the expense of executing our business. You don’t have to be an accountant to realise a 1% improvement in productivity trumps a 1% saving facilities costs by 9 to 1! So how might smart buildings deliver productivity and improved user experience (UX)?

Great UX should be pain free,”Don’t make me think” (Steve Krug). Whilst smart phones offer a means of logging in to a workplace, it’s a bind to install the app, to login, to connect and privacy and indoor location services are a challenge. IoT tech such as OpenSensors, beacons, noise and air quality sensors, coupled with responsible anonymisation can deliver on productivity because improved building and personal wellness simply means we get more done. But how might this work?

Aarron Walter said “Designers shooting for usable is like a chef shooting for edible.”, as techies we can apply these ideas to civic interactions. Take a large office space, I arrive from out of town, I’m visiting for a meeting with my project team. I register, head off to the flexible space and grab a desk, perhaps wasting time trying to find my guys. Each of the team then arrive, some may co-locate, others disperse, there’s no convenient breakout space; the collaboration is diluted and we’re disturbing others. We ate but it wasn’t a great meal.

The lack of an inexpensive, robust, secure and open tech stack rendered us powerless, we have been consuming ‘edible’ tenant experiences rather than a delightful meal. But tech is moving fast; expect new digital services enabled by advances in IoT hardware and data software to shake down the industry. Organisations ready to invest and experiment will move ahead, they’ll develop an ‘edge’ that will define their services and branding for years to come.

Digital concierge – expect to sign in digitally on a device that will bind you, your calendar, your co-workers and your building. Through data expect intelligent routing to the best work space for your or your groups needs.

Location based services – sensors enable ‘just in time’ cleaning services that clear flexible working space when meetings conclude, or sweep loitering coffee cups and deliver fresh coffee during breaks in longer workshops.

Environmental factors – expect IoT to bubble up environmental data such as air quality, temperature, humidity, light and noise that can be used to adjust HVAC systems in real time, or to aide interior designers in improving the workplace.

Smart facilities management – location based services coupled with smart energy grid technology will allow fine tuning of energy supply reacting to changes in demand and national grid status (smart grid frequency response).

Data science – each of the above services a specific need whilst wrangling data sets into an ordered store. Technology like OpenSensors can then add further value through real time dashboarding for health and safety or real time productivity management. Furthermore, once data is captured we can apply machine learning to deeper understand the interactions of our human resources and physical assets through A/B testing or other data science.

Unlocking great UX in buildings boils down to data; capturing it, wrangling it, applying science and iterating to make things better. First we must gather the data from the systems in place (see First ‘Things’ First) whilst supplementing from new devices such as air quality, occupancy through sensors or beacons. Having provided a robust data fabric tenants need to become active rather than passive, agile rather than rigid in their approach to managing their assets. IoT devices and data services will deliver an edge for delivering the best of breed user experience that tenants value so highly.

First ‘Things’ First

What’s needed to make smart city data exchange a reality?

I was pleased to see the recent post by the ODI on the open-shared-closed data spectrum since it resonates with the challenges faced at OpenSensors. To date most of our commercial projects have been at the private end of the spectrum; they are challenging, they are innovative, but they are often not ingesting open data or publishing data as an exhaust.

Are we worried about private IoT messaging? Not too much. Most of our private clients choose to get their own house in order first, after all typically there’s a lot of opportunity to juice existing sensors. First ‘things’ first as they say.

The good news is these deployments are sowing the seeds of sharing behaviours by distributing content internally, releasing data that used to terminate and die. They are unlocking data and distributing for access via API for dashboards, data science and decision support, which is the first step on a journey to openness.

So as a tech company how do we lead our clients and help them deliver open data strategy? We provide the tools to allow organisations to manage data entitlements pushing themselves up the data spectrum to become open. Each of our clients will make their own journey to open up their content, our job is to deliver infrastructure allowing them to manage data at a privacy that works for them.

This is important stuff. IoT tech companies are developing the smart city data network, and we don’t want it to be private. We want pain free navigation from edge to edge of our urban data grid, whilst feeling secure and confident about the data we consume. Our platforms must secure data whilst facilitating its exchange and entitlement control, so what’s needed to make smart city data exchange a reality? A couple of things spring to mind, we need to …

Evolve Topics and Communities – Expect faster adoption of sharing behaviours within trusted communities. By curating communities with shared interests expect adoption of localised data exchange, say amongst tenants of a commercial property. Communities sharing data should ease the path to universal open data.

Evolve Exchange Mechanisms – Transparent pain free data exchange is key to delivering a functionally rich lean IoT data infrastructure, the alternative could be akin to a ‘european data mountain’ of needless and costly sensor deployments.

Building the tech stack for these needs is plenty of work, so as we define the business and technical models for IoT we need to act responsibly. Deploying and decommissioning software is cheap, just a couple of mouse clicks away. IoT deployments are very real, they consume natural resource, risk cluttering our environment and can loiter well past their usefulness.

Encouraging sharing behaviour within IoT through lean shared infrastructure will prevent waste. The alternative would be a legacy of urban junk, we made a mess of space by not decommissioning hardware, lets not do the same with our urban environment and keep it open and centred on communities.