With policies dedicated to improving occupant health, operational efficiency and sustainability having been put on hold due to pandemic-related struggles, it is critical that campus decision makers now turn their focus towards creating resilient campuses that can withstand what the future might have in store. To aid in this effort, Johnson Controls has recently wrapped up its Healthy Buildings Pulse Survey after having polled nearly 800 building decision-makers. In it, the report illustrates the current momentum of healthy building trends in an effort to help facility managers better ascertain their priorities when investing in building technologies.
Connected Technologies are Driving Health and Safety Measures on Campus
Using smart, connected technologies, healthcare and education leaders have already begun to show how others can put occupant health and safety first on campus. Of those surveyed, more than half of healthcare executives (67%) and K-12 leaders (68%) stated they have already implemented some form of healthy building initiative in their facilities.
Health screening solutions like elevated skin temperature scanning and social distance monitoring can be implemented to provide extra protection and peace of mind to occupants. Meanwhile, clean air solutions such as ultraviolet disinfection (UVC) technology and advanced HVAC filtration can be used to limit disease and respiratory issues throughout campuses.
In healthcare and education, these infrastructure updates create a holistic solution that has become the gold standard of healthy campuses. Doctors, nurses and staff are kept safe from infection, allowing them to focus on providing exemplary care, while students are set up for academic success, thanks to being in a healthier environment.
Facilities Need to Increase Resiliency and Adaptability to Enhance Operations
In what could be considered a trial by fire, many campuses saw firsthand the value of being able to pivot operations in the face of high-stress situations. Of those surveyed, 80% of facility executives stated that increasing flexibility to quickly respond to emergencies has been a top driver for investment in technologies like flexible facility monitoring and clean air strategies.
Nearly half of the K-12 respondents (53%), meanwhile, have said they plan to increase investments in smart building technologies and energy efficiencies in the next year, signaling the industry’s commitment to creating healthy places that last.
Through the addition of adaptable infrastructure, not only can campus leaders increase the efficiency of their spaces, but they can also deftly switch between operations in response to emergencies like COVID.
Consider a hospital responding to a pandemic. With pre-configured building control sequences and filtration systems already in place, hospitals can quickly manage a sudden influx of patients and tailor-make spaces by creating negative pressure isolation rooms, floors or even entire buildings. In this scenario, connected systems give hospitals the ability to quickly adapt, which could save lives.
Campuses Remain Committed to Sustainability Goals
Perhaps one of the most lasting impacts of the pandemic has been how campus leaders view the environmental impact of their own facilities. As they began to invest in healthier buildings, so too did they invest for greener buildings, and for good reason. Studies show that buildings are responsible for about 40% of the planet’s total energy consumption and 38% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Thankfully, the same solutions that help protect occupants and increase operational efficiencies can also improve energy efficiencies. From installing pre-configured energy-efficient building control sequences to installing occupancy sensors that can automatically shut down buildings systems in unused rooms to reduce energy waste, campuses can optimize their efficiency, remain compliant with constantly changing regulations and make good on net-zero emissions goals.
For example, a university can leverage its campus-wide building management system (BMS) to identify energy inefficiencies, whether due to an old air handling unit (AHU) or leaky plumbing. The result is a campus can reduce its energy and water waste, achieve carbon neutrality and increase its value to environmentally minded prospective students.
Achieving Healthier, More Resilient Campuses Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
While daunting, the journey to a healthy, sustainable and resilient campus can be surmounted with the right approach (and the right funding). Having historically faced funding issues when it comes to financing improvements, there are plenty of strategies campus leaders can pursue to help.
These include innovative procurement methods like performance contracting or private-public partnerships (P3) to turn operational savings into infrastructure improvements. Campus leaders can work with a trusted strategic partner to learn how to access and leverage these funds appropriately. With the right financing strategy, any campus can make the updates its facilities require to deliver healthy building environments and protect occupants.
Campus leaders are recognizing the critical need for healthy building environments, and they are meeting the need through smart investments. By implementing the latest in healthy building technologies, educational and healthcare institutions around the country are creating safe, sustainable, flexible spaces that meet the growing need for healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet.
Another version of this article originally appeared on our sister site Campus Safety.