Understanding how much Advanced Workplace Sensors cost is an important part of the research and evaluation process for this new category of building intelligence.
Posing this question is the same as asking how much does a lighting control system cost?; or how much does an Indoor Air Quality measurement system cost? or How much does an enterprise-grade building portfolio management software solution cost?
The answer is “It depends”.
However, there are 4 main components we can evaluate to understand the value of Advanced Workplace Sensor when compared to the multiple solutions required to meet the same functionality of Advanced workplace sensors.
- Installation and commissioning
- Ongoing costs
As part of any buying process I’m reminded of the following saying:
This means that the expectation of buyers is that not only will the solution solve the current problem identified, but more importantly, the value received from purchasing the solution will also exceed the value of the investment.
With that understanding, the actual dollar figure is less of a valuable metric to know compared to the real cost of the problem being solved.
Let’s first explore the size and cost of that problem.
Right now there are a multitude of problems to be solved in commercial buildings and smart offices, and these are in a constant state of flux.
Some of these problems are reflective of commercial building trends I wrote about previously and summarised below:
- Changing expectations from the financial markets with respects to the sustainability of buildings and the corresponding yield impacts of comparative property sustainability coupled with organisational commitment to carbon neutral targets and 100% renewables like the RE 100 – 235 companies which have made this commitment.
- Talent competition. Employers looking to attract and retain the best talent and help them do their best most productive work and the major shift to focus on the health and well-being of these occupants in the workspace.
- The way we work is changing and has been changing for some time with the rise of co-working facilities, activity-based working, and now, COVID-19 social distancing requirements to fundamentally change the open office approach and hot-desking culture of many large corporates internationally. The question ‘how do we get people back into offices?’ is on many-a-mind right now.
- The technology that has been used traditionally in buildings is ageing, creating both silos of data across property portfolios with limited transparency holistically, and sub-optimal operation and optimisation (both energy and occupant comfort) due to costs of maintaining and tweaking these ageing systems.
- Healthy buildings clearly produce better outcomes for occupants, employers and property owners and managers from both the human agenda perspective and the bottom line.
Solving these problems is unlikely to happen in the short term all at once, and will be implemented with multiple different approaches over many years. This will also inform and guide new office developments, retrofits and building upgrades.
Technology Has a Role to Play in Solving These Problems
Technology has a role to play in assisting to solve and Advanced Workplace Sensor impact each of these primary problems.
And as long as the cost to solve these problems is less than the impact of the problems themselves – and solutions over-deliver on the value returned – those ultimately footing the bill for these investments can make the right calculated decision and set the appropriate budgets.
In short, how much a single Advanced Workplace Sensor costs is less relevant than the cost per square meter to implement the solution and address the problem.
The final piece of understanding how to price the solution is to understand what functionality is going to be delivered.
Unlike other common building systems like legacy lighting-control-only systems, Advanced Workplace Sensors are capable of delivering value and function across multiple building-system disciplines, removing the need for those systems to also be installed; integrating with other systems via open API’s and providing enterprise level visualisation, transparency and reporting from every installation.
This enterprise visibility provided by Advanced Workplace Sensor Solution has a multiplication effect on the value delivered across each portfolio member, impacting the willingness to invest across portfolios.
The wider the deployment of Advanced Workplace Sensor the greater the leverage the property management and property owners achieve for their investors, and the more sustainable and healthy the building becomes – with real data for all important reporting.
Understanding the difference between a lighting control-only system and Advanced Workplace Sensor system in one that electrical engineers and electrical contractors would benefit from to ensure their client’s problems are being solved and over-indexing of value provided.
So How Much Do Advanced Workplace Sensors Cost?
As functionality has an impact on cost, the functionality is described here in more detail but can be summarised at a base level as any combination of the specific functionality below:
- Lighting Control only
- Utilisation + Lighting Control
- Utilisation + Tracking + Lighting Control
- Utilisation + Tracking + Environmental + Lighting Control
What is not represented in the functionality list is the additional services provided and included in the costs shown below in Base Costs:
- Cloud platform – visualisation, dashboards, real-time control
- Supply of all sensors – whether luminaire embedded or remote/adjacent mounted
- Supply of all infrastructure – wireless infrastructure
- Initial systems commissioning, dashboard creation and integration
The initial capital cost per square metre in Australia for the NLA (Net Lettable Area) can range from $14 AUD p/sqm to $69 AUD p/sqm
At the low end, this could represent something like COVID-19 Safe Workplace Solution with coverage of 10sqm per sensor, optimised for Environment, and Utilisation with Real-Time Location Services delivering Social Distancing and Contact Tracing – but excludes lighting provision, lighting control, API integrations – with 3 years of Cloud SaaS packaged.
What’s important about this number above as well as the functional execution of the solution, is that there is no lighting upgrade needed to provide this Healthy Building Upgrade.
The solution can be deployed into any existing office space seeking more certainty for employees and to comply to Work Safe Australia’s guidelines for workplace safety
Top End Costs
At the high end, this pricing is indicative of a dense constellation of sensors to create a digital ceiling for a truly intelligent building for the future, including:
- Environmental monitoring in 1-second increments across 10 metrics including C02, TVOC, temperature, humidity, sound, ambient light, light colour and more
- WELL Building annual reporting and Post Occupancy Surveys.
- Integration to BMS systems such as Tridium Niagra
- Real-time location services for occupant tracking, COVID-19 contact tracking/proximity
- Provision of all lighting fixtures with embedded sensors for deployment into NCC Section J6 and AS1680 compliant lighting designs for commercial offices (which may also be seeking WELL Building Standard certification) with the following lighting specs.
- UGR19 Compliant
- >100lm/w efficacy
- DALI2, D4i Drivers and performance
- Lighting control capabilities to deliver NCC Section J6 compliance (May 2020 update)
- Delivery of autonomous lighting control solution
- Integration with Audio Visual, security, access systems.
- High bandwidth, low latency mil-spec secured wireless mesh network which can be exploited by other building systems for data transportation and integration
- No on-going Cloud Saas fees for 5 years
Depending on the final solution functionality, after the initial 5 year term where there are no ongoing costs for Cloud SaaS, $1 per sq/m per annum estimate is a budget number that can be used to understand on-going costs for Cloud SaaS.
Cost Comparisons of Advanced Workplace Sensors
The solution above represents a recent project with the following dimensions from a lighting supply perspective:
- 7,000 sq/m NLA
- 1,110 office luminaires as described
- $200 per light point
Based on these numbers its easy to do the maths and see that lighting supply alone for an AS1680, UGR19 compliant design, NCC Section J6 compliant solution just for lighting can be in the order of $28-32 per sq/m for an A-Grade commercial office in an Australian capital city.
None of this considers the significant installation costs savings when using an Advanced workplace sensor solution.
Primarily considered a standard 240volt lighting installation but without the need for electrical distribution boards full of lighting control equipment, BUS cabling between luminaires and BUS cabling between control devices.
The labour and material savings in this part of the installation alone have a real impact on not just costs but also the time required for commissioning, and meeting tight deadlines.
One of the major issues in commissioning legacy lighting-control-only systems for example, is BUS cabling fault finding once the commissioning technicians come to site – which is normally very close to the handover date of the project too, causing stress to stakeholders at a critical project stage.
As Advanced Workplace Sensors are 240v installed – whether embedded in the luminaire or remotely mounted, if fault finding is needed on-site, it’s likely to be electrical fault finding where a more expensive systems integrator is not needed.
This de-risking of the labour component of a project is a consideration smart electrical contractors will understand better than most.
As demonstrated answering the question, ‘How much do Advanced Workplace Sensors cost?’ is no more complex than asking how much any system costs for commercial office.
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