The way we use indoor public spaces has been profoundly altered by the pandemic, highlighting the need to optimize the hygiene, safety and energy efficiency of buildings. And this is no different in higher education.
Higher education brings together a diverse student body in some of the most striking and state-of-the-art buildings available. Nowadays the costs of a university degree are higher than ever and this means that students expect the best facilities along with the best intellectual resources when choosing the place to study.
As university campuses already constitute their own micro-societies, as simultaneous places of work, home and leisure, universities have ample opportunities to enable the transformation of the smart city style on small-scale campuses.
Put simply, smart buildings use advanced technology to achieve a number of benefits. These include:
- Improving the performance of buildings in areas such as energy, operations, safety and comfort.
- Reduce equipment installation, operation and service costs.
- Generating significantly higher user satisfaction rates.
These benefits are achieved through the intelligent infrastructure made possible by digitization. Data from these intelligent building systems gives a structure’s infrastructure a brain and a voice.
For students and other users, in practical terms, this means smart heating that makes a more comfortable environment for their work and smart rooms that adapt to different needs. Sensors can also be used to manage air quality and circulation, helping to improve infection control within enclosed spaces and creating ideal learning conditions for its occupants.
Energy efficiency and performance
Universities typically manage a diverse portfolio of properties that could benefit from smart building technology. For example, centralized data can be analyzed in the organization’s portfolio to monitor energy consumption on a central dashboard.
Some universities may also benefit from local energy production or renewable technologies such as solar energy or air-source heat pumps.
In addition to increasing operational and energy efficiency, universities are well placed to produce their own energy.
A university in Scotland made its Lanarkshire campus carbon neutral by taking a combination of energy efficiency measures and investing in wind farms and solar panels to fully power the plants.
Safety and risk
Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies have had a significant impact on improving campus safety and security. Combined with Wi-Fi, these technologies enable networked CCTV cameras, digitized LED lighting systems and digital ID card readers.
Another example of the potential to provide greater security and support on campus is seen in geofencing. Geofencing uses GPS and radio frequency identification to create a virtual geographic boundary where software can track and respond to mobile devices entering and leaving an area.
Understanding the benefits of smart campuses is one thing; finding practical, affordable and sustainable ways to achieve smart building conversion is another, particularly during a period of economic volatility.
Where it is difficult for an organization to justify prioritizing capital investments, there is a temptation to do nothing. But every day a building hasn’t been converted to “smart” is a day where money savings have been given up, unnecessary natural resources have been consumed, and no social benefits have been provided to students, visitors and employees.
Bespoke, all-encompassing financing packages tend to be offered by specialist lenders who have a thorough understanding of energy efficient technology and its applications. Specialized financial service providers understand the importance of deploying new equipment and technologies to generate revenue and reduce operating expenses and can therefore provide customized financing solutions that offer energy savings and lower expenses, for example, by flexing the financing period to adjust to cash flow. This contrasts with the standard financing conditions usually available from general lenders.
Discussions about the future of campuses are more important than ever. This article explores just a few examples of smart campus development. Such initiatives can help universities reduce carbon emissions, keep pace with the evolution of technology and current events, and make the overall user experience safer and more comfortable.
The budget, however, must be available to implement the system in the first place. Many universities are recognizing the important role that specialized private funding can play in helping them realize their “smart” ambitions and in meeting the expectations of rapidly changing students and staff.
Invest in the future of education with smart campuses
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