Can You Retrofit Your Existing Commercial Space With Automation?


High levels of automation are expected in newer, high-end commercial real estate, but it can seem like a daunting project for owners of older commercial buildings. If you manage or own a commercial building constructed before the current automation craze, then you may be wondering if you can benefit from these new technologies. Luckily, the process of retrofitting an existing building with automated systems does not have to break your budget. By setting the right goals and choosing the right contractors and equipment, you can retrofit automated building control systems into your existing commercial space.

The Benefits of Building Automation

Why should you consider a major project like this when your non-automated systems already work fine? Installing an automation system into an existing commercial space offers several key advantages. By setting your goals correctly, you are likely to realize one or more of these benefits almost immediately:

  • Reduced staffing costs
  • Fewer building maintenance calls
  • Improved climate conditions within the building
  • Reduced energy usage and utility bills
  • Easier security and climate monitoring

While not every building will immediately benefit from all of the advantages of automation, you can ensure that your structure sees as many benefits as possible by carefully crafting a custom automation plan with your installer.

Retrofitting Automation Systems Into Existing Buildings

If you're ready to take the leap, then you may be wondering just how disruptive this project is likely to be. Fortunately, automation retrofits are one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce a building's environmental footprint and improve its energy usage. In most cases, automation systems can be installed without disrupting your existing HVAC or lighting systems. Depending on your budget and specific needs, automation systems can be installed that continue to use all of your existing equipment. In some cases, you may even be able to retain your existing manual thermostats and other controls.

Since so many options are available for retrofitting an automation system into an older building, it is important to set clear goals and understand your budget constraints from the outset.

Setting Goals

Building automation systems tend to focus on three particular areas:

  • Lighting
  • HVAC
  • Security

It can be tempting to install a system that tries to do everything, but remember to focus on your long-term goals. If you are attempting to reduce your energy usage by a certain percentage, for example, then it may make more sense to install a limited system that you can upgrade in the future. By doing this, you can realize immediate energy efficiency gains without a substantial upfront installation cost. Many systems designed to integrate with existing building functionality can also be upgraded later, allowing you to add HVAC controls to a lighting system or expand your automation to cover security systems.

Ultimately, it is crucial to remember that goal-setting is an essential part of any retrofitting project. By setting appropriate goals, you can choose a system that will fit within your budget while immediately reducing your building's fixed costs.

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