The smart revolution has been growing for some years now, so it probably comes as no surprise to hear that the ‘smart building’ is becoming a real phenomenon. But what exactly is a smart building, and how does smart building technology deliver an advantage for building owners and occupants?
If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about around smart buildings and why so many building owners are implementing smart building technology (and whether you should, too), then join us as we get to grips with this latest property industry revolution.
What is a smart building?
The concept of something being ‘smart’ generally means you get to have closer control over it. In the case of a smart building, that means having an entirely new level of control over the property’s environment and operations to improve the building performance. This is achieved by integrating smart technology into the building’s structure, systems, devices and networks.
Being in a position to manage these aspects of a building is advantageous in a number of ways.
- Health, safety,
- sustainability and
- financial savings
being some of the most important.
In today’s times, it is essential to onboard a smart building operating system that doesn’t just provide control of a few of the building systems but also creates a complete ecosystem that can adapt and weather any situation.
Integrating with a typical building management system, a Smart BOS provides a genuinely efficient building that is a digital service platform.
The smart BOS works harmoniously, hand in hand, with the BMS and all the other networks, systems and interfaces. It organises, facilitates and accelerates the deployment, development and use of all digital applications in the building. It is a true power that tells your building what to do for you and provides insights on how to optimise itself in terms of space and operativity.
Smart buildings use Internet of Things (IoT) devices to monitor a range of building characteristics. These devices produce insightful data, forming valuable smart building analytics that reveal trends and patterns.
These can be used to optimise the operational side of the building and crucial aspects of its indoor environment, such as air quality and lighting, and environmental impact.
Connected systems within a smart building typically include access, power, lighting, HVAC, water, security and fire alarm systems.
Smart building analytics provide the power and the data to inform where significant energy savings can be made, thus benefiting by reducing costs and positively impacting the environment. And it is these very analytics that set smart buildings apart.
Going back to our IoT devices.
Internet-connected sensors placed strategically around a building can monitor a host of factors, round-the-clock. From power efficiency and occupancy levels to energy consumption and predictive maintenance, there is much nestled within smart building analytics that the facilities manager can draw advantage from.
IoT sensors can be sited anywhere you want to measure something, from the volume of natural light coming through a window to the noise level given off a machine. The more data you can glean from your building, the greater the chance you have to make a variety of improvements.
What are the benefits of smart buildings?
Smart building solutions and controls allow building managers to make crucial decisions on the spot, if necessary. Imagine being notified via a smart building app that the indoor air quality in your building has dropped below safe levels. You can make changes within your app to the smart HVAC system at the touch of a finger or button or instate evacuation protocols if needed.
Or you could allow the smart building system’s artificial intelligence and machine learning to make automated changes based on what it learnt from how you reacted the last time the situation arose. AI is one of the most constructive benefits because a smart building is also one that learns.
Smart lighting systems identify optimum lighting settings and respond by altering the type and tone of lighting to suit. They also allow for personalised lighting within individual workspaces.
Smart HVAC systems make automated changes to a building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems by adapting to changing environmental conditions.
Both have the ability to enhance occupant comfort, which in itself presents a raft of benefits for employees, employers and building owners alike.
Smart technology makes it possible to look deep inside the characteristics of a building and draw out highly detailed information whilst bringing in external factors such as ambient outside temperature and natural light levels. Together, these data streams form a very sophisticated means of meeting targets, enabling change and improving working conditions and bottom lines.
In summary, smart building technology allows you to…
- Monitor the built environment in real-time – by having a 360°, round-the-clock view of all systems facility managers and companies can analyse, maintain and optimise their spaces
- Meet sustainability goals – by monitoring energy consumption, water usage and indoor air quality and taking steps to reduce waste
- Reduce energy bills – by mining smart building analytics to increase efficiency and by using automated smart features to optimise energy usage
- Cut risks – by monitoring critical equipment to detect impending failure or maintenance requirements
- Minimise disease transmission – by monitoring particulate levels and ensuring HVAC systems are working optimally
- Manage space – by monitoring occupancy levels to comply with social distancing guidelines and optimising space usage
- Attract and retain great staff – by creating the ultimate in working environment comfort and offering personal controls over the likes of lighting and ambient temperature
- Attract long term tenants – by providing a fully controllable building that’s brimming with all the potential listed above
What will a smart building look like in the future?
The smart building of the future probably isn’t that far away. Arriving at work to be identified by facial recognition, smart building technology matches you to your ideal workspace and reserves it for you. A path guidance system escorts you to where you need to be.
Ahead of your arrival at your workstation, your ideal lighting, ventilation and heating settings are readied, all based on your stored preferences.
You drove to work in an electric vehicle, and when you got there, a dedicated charging station was automatically reserved for you because your connected calendar showed you were due in.
You feel satisfied at work because you can control your personal environment at the touch of an app, and the building in which you work is a healthy building that operates self-sufficiently, using an energy efficiency management system to control energy flow and making use of green power from the likes of solar panels.
How are smart buildings assessed?
WiredScore has developed a brand new certification system for smart buildings. SmartScore champions cutting-edge technology in property. By setting a global standard, it identifies best-in-class smart buildings that deliver the very best user experiences, enhance cost efficiency, meet exceptional standards of sustainability and are completely future-proof.
WiredScore’s mission is to certify the world’s more innovative and better-connected buildings to encourage a more collaborative, dynamic and innovative future.
So far, over 40 landlords have committed 70 buildings across seven countries to SmartScore, the certification that has been created to define what smart buildings are and how to build them. Just Great Portland Estate has committed to get 6 of their properties – smart enabled by Smart Spaces – SmartScore certified, as well as the most intelligent in London, 22 Bishopsgate.
How can Smart Spaces help me achieve a smart building?
Smart Spaces is an app-based, Internet-of-Things-led smart building operating system. It has the power to enhance a building experience and provide a 360° control of the various building networks and systems, returning invaluable data via smart analytics and providing occupants with the ability to control their own workspaces.
For facilities managers, Smart Spaces is an empowering technology. Used in conjunction with the building management system, it allows for the assessment, regulation and maintenance of optimal working conditions whilst providing the vital data needed to put strategies in place to achieve goals across the likes of sustainability and cost reduction targets.
Want to learn more about how Smart Spaces can help you transform your property into a smart building?
Request a free demo or get in touch to discover how our pioneering operating system can help you take control of your building.