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Schneider Electric is heavily involved with the development of ‘smart buildings’ – ones that prioritise health, comfort and productivity while maximising energy efficiency and sustainability

Facilities Integrate 2018 signals an exciting year ahead for the built environment

Big crowds, lots to learn, new features and plenty of emerging technologies – the annual Facilities Integrate expo, held at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds, had it all.

The unique Facilities Integrate expo brings together the people and companies who make buildings smarter, safer and more efficient, and proved a big hit with the trades again this year, attracting more than 2600 delegates who enjoyed the presentations and stands of more than 120 exhibitors.

Run by North Port Events, the fourth edition of the show reflected the growing popularity of an event which uniquely brings together the many industries involved in creating and managing the built environment.

Partnership manager Helen Kay says the mix of education, exhibitions and, increasingly, technology demonstrations is proving a hit. “This is a dynamic industry undergoing upheaval and change as technology creates new opportunities for efficiency, convenience and comfort. Our visitors have voted with their feet, cementing Facilities Integrate as a must-attend event of the year.”

Forward-thinking audience

Exhibitors back Ms Kay’s assertion, with HealthSafe Group marketing director Peter Green commenting: “It was great to be able to present smart building technologies to a 
forward-thinking audience at Facilities Integrate. Dedicated facility managers will drive clever integrated buildings into the future, and it was great to see so many of them at the show.”

Having participated in multiple editions of the show, a Schneider Electric representative says the event is a valuable sales opportunity. “Facilities Integrate continues to deliver high-quality and influential delegates which enable our business to significantly increase our brand awareness and further develop our sales pipeline, which will transition into new clients over the coming 12 months.”

Total attendance this year topped 2680 delegates, with 43% return visitors and 42.8% coming for the first time. By industry, those involved in facilities management were by far in the majority, with 42% coming from this field (though it should be noted that ‘facilities’ is a broad category). Other industries well represented included AV/tech (19%), engineering (9.6%), suppliers (9.1%) and property (5.8%).

Ms Kay says highlights of Facilities Integrate 2018 included a well-attended networking function, a newly-added energy management feature where green and related technologies were showcased, and the ever-popular seminar series. “We did notice a lot more technology enthusiasts at this year’s show, reflecting the growing role played by this industry in the built environment, and there was plenty of interest from delegates who have expressed an interest in exhibiting next year,” she says.

Space dictates behaviour

A self-styled ‘creative provocateur’ and internationally recognised for his design nous, Michael Sturtz gave a thought-provoking presentation on the concept that space dictates behaviour.

Michael Sturtz: “Good space design is about creating space that can make things happen”

“Designers must consider how people wayfind, enter and move through buildings as a key component of user experience,” he told seminar attendees. “With the relentless introduction of technology, we as designers must consider how to create a space that ignites collaboration, creativity and innovation, as technology itself is often not conducive to a sharing environment.”

For nearly two decades, Michael has been a leader in the convergence of technology, education and design. In 1999 he set out to reinvent arts education by founding the US’s largest non-profit industrial arts facility, The Crucible. Next he led Stanford’s ReDesigning Theater Project to turn theatre on its head within the world-renowned dSchool, then charted the future of making and learning while leading Stanford’s Creative Ignition Lab at Autodesk in San Francisco. He finally landed at Google X, where he helms the company’s in-house prototyping lab.

“Good space design is about creating space that can make things happen – it shouldn’t dictate how people use the space, how they interact or operate. It should be flexible to allow for the exploration of ideas,” he said. “A holistic approach to the entire experience is rarely considered. Creative innovation thrives where freedom from rules abounds.”

The ‘smart building’ is here

Ben Green of Schneider Electric gave a presentation on the work the company is doing to develop ‘smart buildings’. “A smart building is one that prioritises health, comfort and productivity while maximising energy efficiency and sustainability,” he told seminar attendees. “Technology is changing the way we design and optimise buildings for greater comfort and efficiency – even to get our coffee and set the air-conditioning just the way we like it!”

Ben cited The Edge in the Netherlands as an example, often touted as the most sustainable office building in the world. This net zero energy building uses IoT connectivity to maximise comfort and energy efficiency, and features a broad range of integrated facility management and energy solutions, an electrical distribution system, IT infrastructure, control devices and power monitoring software, all coordinated by a building management system which enables real-time access to critical building data.

Ben said there are several global trends driving the rise of smart buildings, including the growth of IoT-enabled devices, the current energy crisis (“the world will need more energy in the next 10 years and the best opportunity is to make our commercial buildings more energy efficient”), the growing availability of data and analytics, and the massive growth in data centres which require enormous amounts of energy.

“Why have a smart building?” Ben asked seminar attendees. “The reasons are: they optimise energy for building management; through IoT-connected devices, they enable predictive maintenance (e.g. emptying rubbish bins and scheduling cleaning); they improve occupant wellness though the monitoring of air quality; they provide flexible work arrangements and enable easy occupant interaction within the building (just order your usual coffee on the building app which the coffee shop on the ground floor will have waiting for you); and active sensors positioned throughout the building monitor climate, lighting, ventilation and occupancy levels in real time.”

However, there are a number of ‘roadblocks’ that will need to be overcome before ‘smart buildings’ will become the norm, including cybersecurity (fear that the building management system can be hacked), the overwhelming number of new tools that building managers will have to learn how to use, and the new skills needed to manage these new buildings. The biggest challenge, Ben said, is getting people to pay for the new technologies to be incorporated in the building at the time it is built and to recognise their value.

Plan now for the 2019 event

Facilities Integrate 2019, scheduled to be held on 25–26 September, is set to be bigger and better, building on the momentum established over the past four years. Those interested in exhibiting can register their interest now.

northportevents.nz/events/facilities-integrate/enquire


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