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Investing in the Future of Higher Education and Universities with Digital Facilities Management

Investing in the Future of Higher Education and Universities with Digital Facilities Management

With the onset of climate change to drive the global sustainability agenda, energy consumption in the educational sector is both an environmental and financial concern for schools and universities. How can universities leverage the adoption of intelligent building technology to improve energy efficiency?

The Changing Demands of Modern Higher Education

According to Terri Willis, the CEO of the World Green Building Council, “The environment of a school building has a tremendous impact on how a student learns. It would seem obvious that if a student can’t hear their teacher, or is too hot to concentrate, that their performance would suffer, but many don’t realise that factors like CO2 levels and types of lighting, can also make a big difference on how students perform academically.”

Colleges and universities have undergone a paradigm shift in campus design, focusing on the environment and human or student-centered experience. Students have greater expectations for their chosen institutions to have the best facilities and resources and provide the highest quality, community, and success-oriented environment.

A global survey revealed that 65% of college and school facilities managers are more likely to invest in intelligent building solutions than before the pandemic. To optimize learning environments and improve the well-being of students and staff, a smart, flexible, and scalable infrastructure is necessary to help schools support students, staff, and other stakeholders to ensure safer, healthier, and more conducive environments for learning and liveability. 

Towards Sustainable, Data-Driven Standards

The importance of adopting more sustainable operations can’t be overstated and is an essential requirement for campus facilities. An environmentally focused campus ensures stimulation for its student body from an intellectual, social, and civil perspective. How do we carve a predictive roadmap for designing more resilient buildings, communities, and university campuses? 

Until recently, smart building technology has only primarily operated in corporate offices or private residences. Universities typically manage a varied portfolio of properties that could benefit from intelligent building management systems. This includes improving building performance in operations, energy, security, and comfort, lowering utility and operating costs, improving efficiency and occupant experience, and enabling health and well-being.

Digitizing Building Operations

A data-driven building management system removes silos from the building ecosystem thus increasing operational efficiency. Sensors manage indoor air quality and circulation, ensuring infection control within enclosed spaces for creating ideal learning conditions for occupants. According to Deloitte, data collected from sensors determine areas in a building that requires the most cleaning. More visibility in utility consumption enables improvements in energy efficiency, streamlined building maintenance and control with energy, water, and maintenance costs savings and reduced carbon emissions. Intelligent controls on energy use management limit consumption in unoccupied building areas and reduce usage during periods of peak demand.

Improving Health and Comfort in Classrooms and Facilities

  • Continuous monitoring of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) data to optimize air quality levels in classrooms and other indoor spaces.
  • Mitigate risk of transmissions from airborne illnesses and prevent 'Sick Building Syndrome'.
  • Automate building systems based on occupancy and external climate conditions for optimal comfort and improved energy efficiency.

Cost-Efficient Operations and Optimization

  • Data-driven decision-making with centralized command and control.
  • Enables operational strategy and opportunities to drive productivity and maximize savings, and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Save maintenance costs, water, and energy usage to meet sustainability initiatives and high-performance building standards.
  • Real-time analytics and access or control for fault detection and diagnostics enable the remote monitoring and management of building systems for data-driven decisions.

Managing Occupancy in Spaces

  • Occupancy monitoring and people counting to ensure maximum space utilization.
  • Optimizing and automating building operations based on occupancy load.
  • Future proof and de-risk operations according to different environmental conditions.

Green Certification and ESG Tracking

  • Greener school buildings with optimal levels of air quality, lighting, temperature, and acoustics can help students achieve their full potential.
  • Leverage data for ESG reporting and achieving green certification for net zero schools.

Broadening the Scope and Creating Learning Opportunities

The Switch Platform is scalable for multiple campus sites and is readily available for deployment. With opportunities for seamless integration, the Platform enables knowledge sharing and can be designed for educational purposes for students, teachers, staff members to understand how data and IoT works in a building.

  • Permissions on the Platform can be configured for students to test different building systems within a lab environment as a connected, living hub than inanimate spaces.
  • Student access can include view-only building analytics, sensors, lighting, and thermostat controls.

“As we develop our new buildings and review how we utilize our existing ones, making well-informed choices about space management is an integral part of our campus transformation program. The goal is to be modern and dynamic with our space utilization to get the most value out of our assets and reduce our carbon footprint and costs where practical.  
By leveraging the Switch Automation managed service, the University of Tasmania has improved comfort for our building occupants, reduced costs, and gained more visibility into our building health.
The Switch Team's industry experience has helped shape solutions to our problems with genuine interest to help us modernize our building management processes.”
- Nathan Tenaglia, Associate Director, Infrastructure & Operations | IT Services, University of Tasmania

According to the Department of Energy, schools spend about US$6 billion a year on utility costs. Leveraging the Switch Solution is an excellent way to future-proof a school, college, or university, maximizing the savings potential of maintenance, water and energy usage through building optimization—reducing overall carbon emissions while creating safer and healthier indoor spaces for students, staff, and other stakeholders. Through robust digital facilities management for optimized workflow and removed operational silos, educational institutions can have more conducive indoor spaces for an optimal and sustainable learning environment.

Talk to a smart building expert to learn more about how Switch helps portfolio managers reach their sustainability goals.

Let's Chat
PUBLISHED
August 16, 2022
Switch Team
Switch Team
Switch Automation
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