Smart Home Technology and IoT in Multifamily
Smart home technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and connective devices provide substantial benefits to property managers and building owners but can often represent a costly investment. Are you ready to upgrade?
It’s a fact – the Internet of Things and connected tools are the way of the future. Smart technology has improved nearly every facet of day-to-day life, including energy and security, as well as resource and operational management. However, as with any advancement, there are costs of embracing it – measured in both dollars and days. So, how can you tell that it’s time to integrate Smart Solutions into your building?
A ‘smart’ or connected building includes a program or programs empowered by technology and data that enhances the overall management, operations, or efficiency of the building. The connected market – currently valued at more than $15 Billion USD – is projected to reach $137 Billion USD by 2023. While much of this growth has been in single family dwellings, the Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) space has already started to implement IoT automation in two primary areas:
- Resource management, such as energy and water control leading to improved sustainability and reduced utility costs
- Protection to mitigate against potential future costs
Smart home technology advantages
1. Improved sustainability
Buildings consume an incredible amount of energy (accounting for 40% of the US’ total national consumption, of which a significant portion is due to heating and cooling). Sustainability is not just an exercise in minimizing your building’s environmental footprint, but a viable method for reducing the significant costs associated with heating, cooling and lighting.
Newer HVAC technologies provide real-time data and insights that enable proactive management of buildings to reduce costs. Sensor technology can accurately monitor building activity and ensure that heating/cooling is directed accordingly, dramatically reducing the building’s energy consumption.
Connected utility sub-metering for units equips buildings with tenant usage data, providing transparency and accountability on a unit-to-unit basis. Furthermore, some water smart sub-metering equipment incorporates remote and automatic water shutoff functionality, equipping both unit owners and management with the ability to shutoff the unit’s water supply in the event of leaks – thereby reducing or eliminating the potential for substantial water damage as well as wastage.
2. Proactive insights
Real-time data is among the most powerful tools of the connected era, providing property managers with actionable insights into electricity, natural gas, and water usage. Property managers can now monitor and understand utility consumption as it occurs, gaining insights to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Many automation technologies take this approach to data a step further, providing the ability to act on insights with preventative maintenance, further providing management with the tools to develop and maintain operational efficiencies.
3. Mitigation of risk
Buildings face substantial risk from a multitude of possibilities, including equipment malfunction inside units, mechanical and common room equipment failure, and tenant activity. Water damage, for example, has become the largest source of property damage claims by far, with a single incident having the potential to cause millions in damages as well as displacing tenants during the restoration process.
In December of 2017, a Toronto based 59 story multi-unit residential building had a malfunction, resulting in extreme flooding (take a look at the video here). While the resulting damage and subsequent relocation were limited to only four floors, the event created significant hardship for all building residents, with the pool, gym and other common elements closed indefinitely.
4. Smart home technology leads to happier tenants
As any property manager knows, it can be difficult to keep your tenants happy. One of the main complaints fielded by tenants often stems from the temperature of their individual units. With smart technologies, tenants can have more control over the heat and AC in their units than ever before, considerably reducing the frequency of temperature-related complaints to management. Further, preventative measures for security and water damage ensure that your residents are better protected overall.
In terms of ROI, all property managers will be looking for a return as soon as possible. Payback for smart buildings are realized in two main ways: through operational efficiencies and increases in building valuations. Smart buildings will arguably have a much higher valuation than non-smart buildings, making investment an obvious choice. Perhaps the largest benefit is the competitive advantage gained by leveraging the ‘smart’ technology, increasing attractiveness to prospective tenants/buyers.
Ultimately, with more control and lower costs due to operational efficiencies, preventative maintenance, and resource management, tenants receive a better customer experience. The Internet of Things helps connect residents to the home with ease and smart home technology can be the cherry on top to sway residents to reside at your property over another.