Sci-Fi Now a Reality in Tenant Improvement Space

Tenant Improvement Space

Sci-Fi Now a Reality in Tenant Improvement Space

Architects, Brokers, CM/PM's, NEWS, Technology /

When it comes to tenant improvement (TI) projects, the more you take advantage of emerging technology in your design, the more you can improve and advance the workspace.

From deploying remote controlled lighting and using unified communications to adopting new techniques, such as augmented reality and automated construction, you have more options than ever before to create an environment that will increase employee efficiency and give you an edge over competitors. With that in mind, here are examples of sci-fi technologies that are now starting to become a reality in TI.

Variable Refrigerant Flow System

Energy is typically a major operational cost for both big and small organizations in Silicon Valley. A need to cut costs has led companies to adopt variable refrigerant flow (VRF) for their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning setup. VRF and variable refrigerant volume (VRV) systems are more efficient forms of HVAC installations. A VRF uses multiple internal evaporators, with each one providing support for a specific zone in the building for better flexibility.

With a service life of approximately 15 years, they provide a bigger return on investment in TI projects because they run much more cleanly and are more energy efficient than standard HVAC equipment. As a case in point, personal genetics company 23andMe upgraded its facility with a VRF that reduced energy consumption in its Mountain View headquarters.

Not only do you reduce utility bills and improve your bottom line, you gain bragging rights for your marketing department to point out that your facility has “gone green” and is lowering its carbon footprint.

Building Management System

You use a building management system (BMS) to stay on top of all of your electrical, electromechanical, and mechanical systems and maintain control. A centralized command and control system includes a server in your data center that receives data from smart sensors for storage in a database.

Whenever the sensors indicate conditions have gone out of range, such as a temperature increase in a piece of vital equipment, the BMS will sound an alarm to notify your staff and correct the problem based on details from the database.

Flat Screen TVs and Projection Screens

NTT Group Conference RoomAn organization that is still putting up with old-fashioned tube television monitors can improve its public image by ditching the old displays and installing state-of-the-art flat screens that are more energy efficient and offer higher resolution images.

This makes a difference when you are conducting video conference calls, showing new recruits orientation videos, or making a pitch to investors and media.

Unified Communication

For better collaboration, a unified communication system may be in order. This technology powers a dashboard that lets employees see the status and location of their coworkers, boardrooms, and other office spaces at a glance. Instead of having to reserve conference rooms well in advance, the team can work more nimbly, creating ad hoc meetings for informal discussions as soon as an issue arises. Unified communication also integrates technology, so that the information needed on a desktop computer can be easily accessed from the meeting room on short notice.

When a company has a bring your own device (BYOD) policy in place, or is considering setting one up, unified communication can make it easier for IT to control smartphones and what apps will be allowed to run on them, making for a more consistent software ecosystem.

Workplace Design Based on Data from Wearable Devices

Wearable devices study office movement

Instead of relying on assumptions made about how your employees will work together in the building after a TI project, you can automatically gather actionable data in advance from wearable devices.

Using what are referred to as “sociometric ID badges” made by Humanyze, you can gather data from accelerometers, microphones, Bluetooth, and infrared sensors to keep track of employee movements and interactions. You can even record speech patterns and take note of posture to gain better insight into how they are using the space. The data is all anonymous and helps with designing the most beneficial floor plan for offices, cubicles, conference rooms, and hallways.

Remote Controlled Lighting

Monitoring and controlling lights in your facility is easier when you have remote control capabilities. Upgrading to a more efficient system will save time and money.

Facility managers can control, monitor, and configure lights from their desktop. Remote control lights enable you to schedule lighting automatically, with programmable settings for weekdays and weekends. Worker safety is enhanced too—for example, you can arrange for lighting to automatically illuminate their paths to the parking lot when the sun goes down.

Virtual/Augmented Reality in Construction

Experiencing building in VR glasses

Immersive virtual reality and augmented reality help during all phases of construction of a TI project. The architect and client can enter a virtual world based on digital models derived from photos taken by the crew on-site or via a drone piloted from a remote. Clients will have a better view of the project during pre-construction and can make changes more easily before ground is broken.

Augmented reality (AR) lets an architect walk around in a 3D version of the project, with information popping up along the way. The head-mounted display lets you see if proposed materials will work in the current configuration. A walkthrough in an AR system also lets you review whether the proposed project is actually feasible or if more changes are in order prior to construction.

Automated and Augmented Construction

Automation and a variety of new technologies can improve pre-construction and construction efforts. For example, responsive, or “smart,” clothing worn by construction workers cools them down on hot summer days and keep them warm enough to work during the chill of winter.

Consider the increased use of drones in so many industries, including construction. Sophisticated construction drones can help automate the process of generating site surveys and rendering models.

A construction drone is suitable for labor-intensive tasks such as keeping track of hundreds of acres of the site automatically, from pre-construction inspections to ongoing monitoring of work at the site in real-time during a TI project.

Internet of Things

Devices ranging from laboratory test equipment to smart thermostats are now being developed with Internet of Things (IoT) capability. These devices are always connected to the Internet, sending signals from their sensors to control other devices or sending reports to people about how the equipment is functioning.

Employees can connect with your IoT ecosystem using their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. A customized dashboard built for your organization provides easy access to settings and facilitates reports generated from analytics.

Taking advantage of new and emerging technologies during advanced TI projects is the key for getting the best return on an investment. Whether you are a business owner, developer, or facility manager, or if you work as a broker, architect, or subcontractor, it’s clear that keeping up with innovations will set you apart from competitors as you redefine and upgrade your workplace.

With so many innovations changing the way we approach tenant improvement, you’ll want to download our free guide: “Your Space is Your Recruitment Tool.” Inside, you’ll find all the details you need to stay current on the latest office design trends.

Architects, Brokers, CM/PM's, NEWS, Technology