Smart technology and the environment

With environmental concerns rising up the agenda of students and institutions, Paula Benoit, CEO PCCW Global Networks (UK), explains how technology infrastructure can be part of the solution

There’s been a significant increase in environmentalism in the past few years as more and more people realise that human activity is damaging our planet. The student population is particularly vocal, with many campaigning actively to help protect our planet for future generations.

This environmental awareness has shone light on where we live and work. Our homes and offices all require heating and lighting and consequently their efficiency, or lack of, has a huge effect on the environmental impact a building has. Student accommodation is no different and today more students are looking to live somewhere that is safe, secure and better for the planet.

Many student accommodation developments are older buildings. Inefficient heating, lighting and monitoring systems mean that they could be responsible for up to 75% more carbon emissions than their modern equivalent. For those living in these buildings with an eye on the environment, these are significantly less attractive. For accommodation providers themselves, these buildings cost more to run which affects margins.

Recently there’s been an explosion in the development and roll-out of smart building technology. Much of the growth has been in the domestic market, powered by big budget advertising campaigns and driven by utility companies. However, these systems don’t work very well in a commercial environment such as student accommodation with shared facilities and multi-occupancy apartments. Fortunately, the technology is now available for these situations which opens up a whole host of opportunities for accommodation providers to improve the environmental performance and costs of running their buildings.

Diminishing fuel sources combined with rising energy costs have made energy conservation a top priority for many providers. Smart technology can help by automating energy usage. In buildings that use smart technology, light usage is automatically regulated, heating and cooling equipment is monitored, and appliances are shut off if not in use. This not only saves money, but also helps protect the environment.

Spending on smart building technology is still often seen as a low priority for many. By the time the infrastructure and sensors are installed the payback period could be significant. But there is another way.

As well as being environmentally conscious, students today also demand the fastest and most reliable internet connectivity. Most accommodation is still hampered by an ageing and complex copper cable infrastructure, delivering a slow and unreliable experience for users. This results in unhappy students and providers struggling to fill all their available rooms.

Installing a full fibre infrastructure throughout the building is the answer to solving both issues. Fibre is not only capable of delivering the ultimate internet experience but is also an investment in a future-proofed infrastructure that can support a range of smart building technology using the same fibre used to power the internet. This saves significant time and money on installation and management costs. Surely a win-win?

The primary focus of the operator is raising operational efficiency and keeping costs down while delivering a first-class student experience. This approach and solution maximises operational efficiency, provides students with world-class connectivity and provides solutions that will help our environment for the benefit of future generations.


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