Smart Spaces, Smart Spaces

Occupancy sensors for a smart workplace

Author: Armin Anders, Vice President Business Development, EnOcean
Issue 06-2024: read all articles online read as pdf

For Building Asset Managers office space optimization is one of the three global megatrends alongside energy management and wellbeing. Owners and tenants of office buildings can significantly reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by implementing smart working conditions. Crédit Agricole Normandie impressively showed how a genuinely smart and enjoyable workspace can be realized using a smart automated system for managing meeting room reservations. For this, the company installed around 100 sustainable and cost-effective EnOcean occupancy sensors.

The potential of smart meeting room management

For ten years, Crédit Agricole Normandie in Caen (France) and its 800 employees have occupied a 20,000m2 building. While this mutual bank’s main mission is to support the local economy, it also wants to provide outstanding working conditions to retain and attract talent. The bank is also keen to manage its large real estate portfolio to optimize its assets. To meet these goals, it has been considering building-related services for its employees and customers for several years. Visitor access to the companies Wi-Fi in conference rooms being one of them. However, the company recognized that implementing a smart meeting room management meant a great potential for energy savings. The location in Caen has conference rooms with 250 resp. 500 seats and 30 meeting rooms. Employees can book these on the spot with a QR code, in advance through an app, or from a laptop.

Conference rooms like this one at Crédit Agricole in Caen are made smart with occupancy sensors from EnOcean
Conference rooms like this one at Crédit Agricole in Caen are made smart with occupancy sensors from EnOcean.

EnOcean occupany sensors for smart workplaces

“While users like the room reservation app, which is more user-friendly and responsive than our previous solution, we still weren’t able to know if these meeting spaces were actually occupied,” Flavien Deguette, the bank’s Head of IT, points out. What procedure should be triggered if a room has been reserved but nobody turned up? In principle, it should be immediately tagged as being “unoccupied” on the schedule, thus making it available for others. However, until now this was impossible as it required too many resources. Consequently, Crédit Agricole Normandie decided to optimize its existing resources by installing EnOcean occupancy sensors. Today, around 100 of these sensors have been installed in the meeting rooms and their benefits are numerous. The first is that they do not require a battery as they are solar-powered. Secondly, they can be connected to the building’s infrastructure, e.g., Aruba Wi-Fi hotspots equipped with an EnOcean dongle.

Radio coverage by EnOcean dongle

This allows the open and interoperable communication protocol that these sensors require to use the existing Wi-Fi network. In fact, the radio coverage of an Aruba access point is identical to that of an EnOcean dongle. All the sensor data is routed to a platform, the IoT Connector, hosted at Jooxter. The lifespan of these sensors is over 25 years, proof of their sustainability. If a reserved room is unoccupied for more than 15 minutes, its status will then show as available. “Our objective is to reclaim 20% of unoccupied reserved rooms, which would already be a very good start,” Flavien Deguette explains. It should be noted that these sensors can be detected and secured using Aruba ClearPass Device Insight (CPDI). This provides a full spectrum of network visibility to understand the context of connected devices, such as type, vendor, hardware version and behavior, including applications and resources used.

Enhancing the building´s value

Crédit Agricole Normandie is now able to optimize the availability of these meeting rooms. The company will soon be testing multifunction EnOcean sensors. These can detect temperature, humidity, brightness, and vibrations thanks to an accelerometer. They will be placed on tables or desktop computers. The slightest vibration sends data indicating that the office is in use. The aim is to know whether a “Flex Office” is occupied or not and pass this data to Jooxter via the Aruba Wi-Fi 6 access point integration. Employees can find out in advance whether a certain office is vacant. The bank is also planning to install an internal GPS solution. This will make it easier for people to navigate to their next meeting room using their smartphones. This infrastructure also makes it easier to track workstation use. EnOcean sensors are simply added to and powered by the Aruba Wi-Fi 6 access points.

Economic and ecological benefit

Moreover, both benefit from a management software tool which has been used and mastered for several years by the administrative team. “What appealed to me was how easy it was to administer the Aruba solution. It only took half a day to install the sensors, pair them with the Wi-Fi access points, and get everything up and running with Jooxter,” Flavien Deguette explains. Crédit Agricole Normandie is one of the first banks to use occupancy sensors to enhance its digital workplace. This is a first step towards compliance with the BACS (Building Automation & Control Systems) regulation, which requires commercial buildings to control and limit their energy consumption by 2025. Aruba, solution partners Jooxter, and EnOcean deliver seamless integration of interoperable platforms capable of meeting these sustainability goals, both economically and environmentally. This results in smarter building management thanks to data that remains local and secure.

About Perpetuum

Perpetuum is EnOcean's customer magazine focusing on solutions and products for energy harvesting technology. The technology delivers the data for the Internet of Things in a resource-saving, self-powered and maintenance-free way. In doing so, it enables the smart use of buildings, cities and industrial plants. In the categories Internet of Things, Smart Building, Smart Lighting and Smart Home the EnOcean's partners in particular have their say highlighting their expertise.

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