Tag Archive for: Workspace

Building automation is a rising trend in today’s real estate marketplace. The automation of workplace functions allows a Facilities team to increase efficiency and track the use patterns of a space, as well as enables users to schedule events. These “smart building” systems use common communication protocols to talk to each other and share information with a central “brain.” A smart platform also allows integration with other building systems and the company’s IT infrastructure itself. Here, we’ll dive into what building automation really looks like, how it works and how your workplace can apply this technology to its best advantage.


When people talk about a “smart building” what they’re referring to is the autonomous control of a facility—both distributed control and the building’s automation systems. Distributed control systems include things like monitors, mechanical functions, security, fire, lighting, HVAC and ventilation systems, either within a single building or across a campus. Building Automation System (BAS) functions are all about keeping an eye on things—maintaining climate within a specified range, lighting rooms based on occupancy schedules, monitoring performance and device failures and provide malfunction alarms accordingly.

It’s not hard to see how such automation systems reduce building energy and maintenance costs through pre-emptive maintenance and the quick detection of tech issues. In fact, smart energy management practices can often pay for themselves in a short period of time—and help companies tell a powerful sustainability story for customers, partners and employees alike.



According to the Department of Energy, businesses consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. and waste 30% of the energy used per year.




By 2020, 19.5% of all buildings in the US will be automated, with 50 million connected devices.




Focusing on HVAC, lighting, and some types of electrical loads, mid-sized buildings implementing a proactive energy management program can expect savings from 10% to 25%.


Here are just a few ways in which automation can help today’s workplaces do what they do…better.


Within a business environment, some controls can and should be in the hands of the people who work there (individual level control), while others automatically kick in based on whether people are actually in the space or not (occupancy level control).

For example, with individual level control, an employee can engage the HVAC system in a conference room using an interface on their IP phone, if they happen to be working after office hours or on a holiday. At the Occupancy Level, unused equipment or appliances will power on and off automatically, without any needed user intervention—like automated blinds that adjust according to heat and light, or lighting that turns on according to movement within a space.

In either case, tracking real-time energy utilization for any building from a central location can help a Facilities team determine energy consumption patterns, design spaces more efficiently, and identify areas of improvement across departments. Better awareness of energy consumption levels and their sources can also enable companies to negotiate power contracts and better verify the billing info provided by those utility companies.

To learn about Byrne’s workplace energy management system, visit their Circuitrac website here. 


Think of it as air traffic control for a company’s busy meeting areas. Employees can use a scheduling app on their phone to book a room. And even without an app, room sensors tied to the workspace reservation system can note movement and change the occupancy status within the system—effectively reserving the room to prevent employees from double booking. These same sensors can also tie into digital room signage and displays to indicate whether a room is available, reserved or occupied.


Work space is expensive, so employers want to maximize its use wherever they can. In building automation, sensors record the use of a room, eliminating the need for employees to register that information themselves. Then space utilization reports can track when certain environments are being used, to help organizations make decisions about how to best allocate square footage—they can even help inform the creation of smarter workplace design layouts based on usage.


In order for your building automation system to operate, you need five things:




The eyes of the building


Sensors measure information such as CO2 output, temperature, humidity, daylight or room occupancy and come in several types.


These use passive infrared technology to detect heat and movement and are usually mounted to the ceiling or an area where the sensor has full range of vision within the room. Motion sensors deliver a 90-95% accuracy rate—accuracy may be reduced when people sit for long periods of time. While these sensors can detect if a person is utilizing a space, they can’t specify how many.


These sensors utilize the same passive infrared technology as their motion-based partners and are designed to detect the presence of a person in a particular spot—desk, conference table, etc. As with the motion sensors, desk sensors may inaccurately capture data when people sit too long, which is why they tend to be more useful in gathering simple vacancy data.


Unlike the sensors mentioned above, these are ideal for capturing the number of individuals entering and exiting a room. Mounted above the room’s doorways, companies can precisely track occupancy and analyze usage versus capacity. This data also helps improve office design by identifying where people are congregating and by providing data to adjust and improve wasted space.


SMART HUB (Controller):

The boss of the operation


The brains of your BAS (Business Automation System), these digital controllers receive input data, apply logic to that information (think algorithm, like Google does with their search data), then send out a command to other devices to adjust accordingly, based on the info gathered.




The channel your devices talk to each other on


The most commonly used communication channel, ZigBee radio communication protocol, is an openly available global communication standard that addresses the unique needs of low-power, low-cost wireless M2M (Machine-to-Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) networks. In technical terms, it operates on an IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio specification and even on unlicensed frequency bands including 2.4 GHz, 900 MHz and 868 MHz. Zigbee offers a wireless range of 70m indoors/400m outdoors and uses military-grade AES 128 encryption for an exceptionally high level of information protection.



The IOT that controls your device


Once the controllers have gathered the data and determined what course of action your system should take, those commands are carried out by the system’s output devices. When the controller sends out a command, actuators and relays (the typical output devices) go into action—reducing or increasing the heat in a particular part of the building for example or dimming lights in unused areas.



How you view your data


Simply speaking, these are the screens or interfaces that work as a translator between a BAS system and the humans who operate it. This is where building data is reported (historical, consumable, run times, and system activity information) and can be used as a record of building operations. It also allows immediate diagnosis of a system without needing to be physically in front of the unit.



Intelligent BMS systems integrate disparate BMS devices/networks onto a common network (IP) to enable unified automation and management, even though they may be manufactured by different vendors. In the future, we may even get to a single dashboard that can manage all BMS and Network/IT systems. Running a building should be a data-driven process. Analytics platforms like SkySpark, CopperTree, and others can pull in data from existing equipment and produce useful insights for facility managers to help make better operational decisions. Then the next logical step is to utilize that vast amount of operating data currently sitting unused by existing building control systems and turn it into actionable insights—so building operators can be free to focus on fixing problems, not out there searching to find them.

With today’s automated technologies, businesses are not simply in control of the function, safety and comfort of their buildings, they can operate those systems from a smarter position. One that not only increases employee satisfaction and informs better space allocation, but one that is sure to generate significant energy savings for years to come.


More than ever, people want to work where and how they work best. Thanks to the evolution of technology, that means taking advantage of outdoor spaces as well—but of course, powering up al fresco comes with its own challenges. The need for reliable outdoor power is not only increasing in the workplace, but in hospitality […]

In 2018, work spaces are entirely different than even 10 years ago. The days of “traditional” work spaces are quickly on dwindling, let alone the days of the “cubicle farm.” So what designs do matter for work spaces in 2018?


Open Floor Plans have been around for years, but we’re starting to see an increase in the use of this concept, moving from private offices and cubicles.

You read that right. Not only do these spaces not need “open door policies,” there aren’t even doors to close. Open floor plan offices encourage collaboration, shared work spaces, and everything that comes with them.

Designing work spaces has changed from a layout having just a few spaces within office buildings that are open concept to nearly the entire space as open floor plan. While the C-Suite may still have doors to close, the rest of the building likely will be sharing desks, outlets, and screens.


Working doesn’t have to be done at an assigned seat to be productive anymore. In fact, many people that come to the office take part in a trend called “Hoteling” or “Hot Desking”.

Hoteling doesn’t mean that you live at a hotel or even work in a hotel, instead it refers to using a scheduling system to reserve a desk for the day or a few hours. Hot Desking is similar, but deals with unassigned seating by a first come, first served basis.

Each of these concepts is moving us away from having an assigned or static desk and moving to an environment where you sit where you feel you’ll get your best work done. Heads down work could be in a space with more barriers and a quieter environment, collaboration could happen when your team decides to sit together for a day or two.

This surge in providing unassigned workspaces is already changing the face of many offices and can be seen in the rise of Co-Working Spaces.


Standing work desks are more than just a passing fad. Their sudden rise in popularity is linked to more than just health benefits. From a facility point of view this is saving valuable real estate or even allowing new workspaces to be deployed within an existing footprint.

Standing desks increase collaboration, focus, and productivity. You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” but you may not be familiar with all of the benefits of standing.


As new workers arrive in the office we need the workspaces to meet their needs not just for doing a task, but also meeting their social needs.  That means that our workspaces are changing and how we design them up makes a difference. The goal of a great workspace design is to provide the tools that someone will need, so that all they need to do is sit down, plug in and get to work.

With every day and the improvement technology tools at work, the way we work changes. And when the way we work changes, workspace design needs to change too. How is it affecting you? Let us know in the comments of this blog.

Welcome to the wonderful world of being able to work wherever you want. Well, almost.

Coworking spaces and Makerspaces have been on the rise since the integration of technology into the workplace. While both spaces are slightly different and used for different types of work, they both help usher in a new era of developing the freedom to work away from your specific office.

Whether to make working while traveling easier or to give remote workers a home base (other than their dining room table), both spaces are unique in that they foster a work community outside of a company’s four walls.


In 2005-era San Francisco, Brad Neuberg realized he could create his own coworkers. By attending networking events and slowly gathering a group of like-minded individuals, Brad discovered that all it took was a shared space and passion for people to connect. They didn’t need to be employed by the same company, and in fact they learned much more from each other than from their companies. And with this idea, coworking spaces were invented.

This incredible trend has continued (and swept the world with it) for 13 years now.

Coworking spaces have completely changed the way employers view the 9 to 5 landscape. Gone are the days having to sit in front of a screen for 8 hours a day in an office (heaven forbid in a cubicle…). This new style of space has created a new culture around working.

Designers focused on developing and improving coworking spaces can’t ignore the high level of technology integration. The ability to connect PC or Mac to any outlet and any other gadget is critical.

The importance of coworking spaces is just that – they allow collaboration and they work. It’s the seamless integrations that often make the space. Add in a banging modern facade and you have the total package in a coworking space.


Makerspaces are directly engineered for prototypers. In fact, they might even be better known by their nickname: hackerspaces.

These spaces are an entirely new realm outside of coworking spaces. They’re developed in an effort to foster a community that likes to build, invent, create, and learn. Rather than creating a networking space that encourages like-minded computer dwellers to collaborate, Makerspaces encourage the handcrafted to gather together.

Typically outfitted with technology such as 3D printers, models, software, and other electronics that enhance crafting, Makerspaces are still a rare find. And their rarity makes them that much more marketable.

It’s ever-important for designers to keep in mind that while Makerspaces are still in their infancy, they will only explode from here. Discovering the right technology to integrate, layouts to develop, and freedom to collaborate through open floor plans are imperative.

Outfitting an entire office space can seem daunting at first.

Confronting a budget in this scenario is particularly complicated. And in times like this, it can be easy to want to find a way to cut a few corners and save some cost.

But finding cheaper (emphasis on the cheaper) products to outfit the new space is not the answer. UL approved products offer more than just efficiency – they offer safety.


There is a very good reason why Underwriters Laboratories came to exist. In a world of ever-expanding products, inventions, and evolution, this organization took upon itself to ensure that there is a set of safety standards to protect the users.

With an influx of manufacturers (and a need to keep costs low), it has become increasingly more important to abide by the vigilance of UL. Products that sell for lower prices must be made with lower quality – and it is these products that are less safe. The use of inferior products creates hazards for workplaces housing expensive equipment and easily ignitable material. The cost savings of purchasing non-UL material doesn’t match the risk imposed on the company, equipment and employees.

UL discovered what materials, layouts, and other design elements encouraged electrical safety in particular. Their standards protect users from potential fires, electrical shock, and personal injury hazards. Whether the products are office furniture, additional power or charging accessories, UL set a code of standards for various levels of safety based on their testing.


You may see companies carrying a UL listing, an ETL listing, or both. Here’s what you need to know to distinguish the two certifications.

UL: Underwriters Laboratories, or simply known as UL, writes safety standards and tests products to ensure they meet the requirements of the written safety standards. In order for a product to be UL certified, a product sample must be tested and complete all safety regulations put into place by the UL.

ETL: Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) includes the safety testing for a variety of electronic components and their associating products. ETL differs from UL because ETL doesn’t test products according to their own set of standards. Products undergoing ETL testing are held to published standards of safety such as ASME, ASTM as well as UL.

For more information and to discover specific details surrounding UL listings, browse the full catalog here. Learn more about UL Listed vs UL Recognized products as well in this helpful blog.



You’re probably the coworker that scares all IT and safety managers to death.


Oh let’s see, because you always have a coffee mug filled to the brim on your desk? Or your stylish water tumbler tucked out of your sight lines behind your computer monitor so you can take cute Instagram pictures of your work space?

Imagine the havoc spilling any liquid near a system of electrical outlets would wreak. Not just on your computer, but potentially anyone else who is plugged into the same outlet or stretch of outlets.

But coffee is essential to creativity and directly linked to job happiness, so don’t put that cup away just yet.


Enter: spill-proof technology. A UL tested and approved simplex, this design allows for a safer environment with liquids near electrical outlets.

In order for an outlet to be considered Spill-Proof, it must pass the UL Spill Test. This test was developed to ensure that there would be no electrical shock in the event of a liquid spilling on a power unit utilizing the Spill-Proof technology. (The spill test is performed with nothing plugged in the unit) This means that if the circuit breaker in the electrical closet trips, you can unplug everything and start mopping up the coffee. Once the breaker has been reset, the systems will continue to run unaffected and you are able to finish cleaning up your spilled coffee while your coworkers all Snapchat your shame.


To pass the UL Spill Test, liquid can’t create a path between hot, neutral, and ground terminals.

But what does that even mean?


Simplex A

This is a simplex (Simplex A) designed for flush-mounted power units (i.e. a power unit integrated into your desk surface where your computer and monitor are plugged in). All three openings required for establishing an electrical current (hot, neutral, and ground terminals) cannot allow liquid to bridge across them. You can note that these three openings have edges for the upward-facing-mounted power units specifically developed to stave away liquids from creating an electrical path between the terminals.

For this to work on power units on an angle or in troughs underneath the desktops themselves, there is a separate Spill-Proof simplex (Simplex B) that has passed the UL Spill Test as well.

Simplex B

Again, liquid cannot pool across the terminal in order to pass the UL Spill Test.


When designing spaces or developing marketing material around new spaces, be sure to include Spill-Proof Technology. Not only does it improve the longevity of the workspace and the safety of its immediate value, but it also means you can enjoy that Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte with Almond Milk at your desk.

People are changing the way we work every single day. And technology slowly shifts to match the new trends that people create. If you want your spaces to be designed around people or marketing to people, then it’s imperative to incorporate the necessary technology and upgrades to do so.