Smart building solutions offer a tremendous amount of possibility, but few building owners seem to be capitalizing on the full intelligence afforded by smart buildings. That’s because many building owners and architects install the latest technology solutions without ensuring the maximum integration and interoperability that truly makes building technology “smart.”
Smart buildings harness the data produced by Internet of Things (IoT) connected building technologies to automate a wide range of processes. Through machine-to-machine communication, building systems can be programmed to respond to certain stimuli or preset conditions. These automated processes can drive significant reductions in operating costs and increase building safety, among other major benefits.
Yet, despite the fact that most technology systems today can be connected to one another, there often remain significant siloes between systems. Without a proactive design approach that leverages the full advantages of smart technologies, many building owners may be missing out on easily achievable benefits.
Understanding how the building systems that most owners already include in buildings can work together will allow designers to create an overall smart building strategy.
3 ways smart building solutions solve building challenges
Many building owners and designers continue to focus on smart technologies rather than smart buildings. This shortsighted approach does not fully appreciate the ways in which smart building solutions can solve a number of the problems building owners face today:
1. Smart buildings lower operational costs. Smart buildings give operators better intelligence about what’s going on in their facilities so they can find opportunities to reduce energy usage. Building sensors can provide information about how much energy is being consumed at given times and compare it to occupancy patterns, sunshade use, and a range of other data to automate energy-saving performance. When individuals leave an office or other space, this can trigger changes to lighting and temperature that prove more cost-effective.
There’s ample evidence at this point that smart buildings can reduce energy usage by as much as 23%. The payback for a building owner’s investment is becoming shorter all the time. In fact, the growing prevalence of affordable commercial IoT solutions combined with the lower price tag of renewable energy solutions puts net-zero energy buildings within easier reach for many building owners.
2. Smart buildings support safer environments. Connected smart buildings can reduce or remove human intervention to speed response times in the event of emergencies. They can orchestrate individual system capabilities to enable more sophisticated responses to various emergency situations. This may include automating actions such as sending out a mass notification prior to a severe weather event, turning on generators or alerting utilities after a power outage, shutting down elevators and lock doors to prevent asset theft, or guiding first responders to the location where a panic button was pressed.
These safety solutions have their own impact on operational costs, because they can reduce business downtime and potentially lower insurance costs.
3. Smart building solutions increase property value. No matter what market you’re in, creating a more personal occupant experience is increasingly critical for attracting tenants. This is an area where smart technology can be a powerful differentiator. In a smart building, the arrival process for office workers, hotel guests or even hospital patients can trigger preset conditions for their rooms’ lighting, automated window shades, and temperature, among a range of other conditions. When individuals leave these spaces, this might trigger an alert for a just-in-time approach to housekeeping, keeping restrooms and conference rooms clean, accelerating housekeeping’s response to surface wipe downs based on busier than normal usage, triggering automatic disinfection systems, and more.
Real estate ownership groups will find that they can charge a higher premium for Class A buildings outfitted with infrastructure that supports smart building connectivity.
It’s smart to consult designers early on
Building owners miss out on maximizing the benefits listed above when they do not take a holistic approach to technology during the design stage. They may leave tremendous cost savings on the table by adding smart building solutions into a facility one at a time as they become aware of them, missing opportunities for integration. They also run the risk of prioritizing one specific benefit afforded by IoT technology without recognizing how easy it is to leverage other benefits with the same data.
Creating smarter buildings requires that building owners work with their technology design consultant early in the building design to identify operational goals. By providing more information upfront about your use goals, the right consultant can offer insight into the investments and level of integration most suitable to meet your needs. If you’re developing a mixed-use high-rise with multi-family units, for example, what level of amenities do you need to offer to be competitive? What does living and working in that space look and feel like? Answering these questions can help create the right experience for your budget and needs.
In addition, smart building solutions make it more important to involve all stakeholders early in the design conversation. Depending on the number of systems these system integrations will impact, building owners will likely need to involve facilities and operations teams, security, IT and other departments in design discussions to create an effective experience.
We are happy to share with you how you can get more value from the building systems you are likely already buying—the possibilities are almost endless!
Today there are seemingly endless possibilities for transforming the built environment through technology. To start the conversation about how a smarter building might make sense for your next project, contact CRUX today.