What is a Smart Building?

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Did you know that there are an estimated 175 million smart homes in the world? People across the globe are looking for more ways to stay connected, cut costs, and be more efficient. But this isn’t just true for homes, many businesses are making their buildings and offices smarter, too.

Smart buildings enable people to integrate technology to make their spaces work for them. So, what is a smart building? Continue reading to find out.

 

What is a Smart Building?

A smart building is one that works on a host of technologies, but more commonly IoT technology. IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a network of sensors, systems and software with unique processing abilities that exchange data over communication networks. IoT has the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Among other use cases, this tech can use hardware, software, and connectivity to create a safe and comfortable space for occupants in commercial buildings.

These IT technologies can manage HVAC systems, energy consumption, lighting, security, air quality, and much more, collecting and analysing data to make improvements and adjustments with the help of artificial intelligence or human monitoring.

 

What are the Benefits of Smart Building Technology?

This type of technology can offer a ton of benefits and actionable information for businesses. Smart building systems constantly evaluate the data it gathers from sensors and automatically actions necessary changes. This creates a seamless and liveable space that will adapt to your every move.

The benefits of smart building technology are manifold, but the most often cited benefits of smart building technology are:

  • Comfort
  • Cost-saving
  • Sustainability
  • Building Automation
  • Maintenance
  • Safety
  • Integrations
  • Wellness

 

Comfort

Smart building sensors control lighting, temperature, humidity, and other parameters. This allows you, as the building owner, to personalise your own comfort settings.

You don’t have to worry about changing the temperature of your building or office if you get too hot or too cold. Your building will detect the change in temperature and give you actionable insights or automate changes.

These IT technologies monitor environmental conditions and occupant behaviour.  This helps to maintain your HVAC, electrical, lighting, and more for an optimal, comfortable environment.

 

Cost-saving

Due to the IoT-enabled adjustments your commercial building is able to make on a daily basis, you’ll find that you will be able to understand your energy usage better, ultimately saving on energy costs. A smart building will optimise your heating and cooling system so you aren’t running these systems in excess, providing a huge boost to energy efficiency.

This is especially true for a smart office. With hybrid models becoming more and more popular, you don’t need the lights on every single day. Your smart building sensors will detect when people are in the office and when they aren’t. With this integrated building management, the building owner doesn’t need to worry about maintaining a building that is being used half of the time it used to be.

 

Reduced Environmental Impact & Sustainability

Not only are smart buildings cost-effective, but they also help the environment. This technology can monitor indoor and outdoor environmental changes. This allows the system to save on energy and on water, helping you to reduce your carbon footprint and achieve sustainability goals.

For example, smart buildings can detect both indoor and outdoor lighting. If there is natural light outside, it will automatically adjust the window shades. These adjustments help lower power usage dramatically. It helps decrease artificial light, making these buildings more energy-efficient.

 

Preventative Maintenance

Real-time data allows these smart buildings to detect any potential issues or required maintenance on any of the building’s structures. This will mitigate the need for major restorations, instead enabling people like facilities managers to observe and amend issues as they rise. For example, this technology will detect any small water leak before it becomes a massive problem that will take time and money to fix.

 

Safety

Not only can smart buildings detect preventative maintenance, but they can also detect any potentially dangerous situations. For example, these sensors can detect and alert you to any small or large fires. These security sensors will also recognise any gas leaks, changes in the air, such as carbon monoxide, and any security vulnerabilities. These alerts will notify you and your occupants of any safety risk happening in your building.

 

Integration Capabilities

If you decide you want to make your building intelligent, you don’t have to start in a new build. All existing buildings can become smart. These integration capabilities make it so you don’t have to renovate your building or look for another one.

You can simply install the technology to start benefitting from these smart systems.

 

Health and Wellness

Smart technology will also monitor your air quality. Your smart building will run air filtration when it detects any low air quality. This filtration will allow you to breathe better, sleep better, and affect your overall wellness.

 

The benefits of smart offices quote

 

What are the types of Smart Buildings?

Because of the integration capabilities, almost all buildings can be implemented with this technology. In fact, there are many buildings using this technology today. The most common types of smart buildings are:

  • Smart Hospitals
  • Smart Homes
  • Smart Offices
  • Smart Factories
  • Smart Warehouses

 

Smart Hospitals

Hospitals across the world are implementing smart technology. This helps to enhance staff productivity and enhance treatment options. These hospitals are now able to optimise the use of medical equipment and help lower infection rates with air filtration hardware.

Also, because of smart occupancy sensors, patients are able to be processed more efficiently, eliminating the wait times and getting them treated faster. With heating and cooling monitoring, patients are also more comfortable while they wait.

 

Smart Homes

More and more families are upgrading their home technologies. This technology can be especially helpful for people with disabilities. Assistive technologies can help disabled homeowners go about their daily lives. Certain disabilities can make it challenging to update your lighting and HVAC. However, with smart technology, you won’t have to worry about security systems or home maintenance.

With the rise in prominence of consumer-friendly tech like Alexa and Google Home, it’s now possible for many people to turn their home into a smart one.

 

Smart Office

Smart offices are known to increase productivity and create a better employee experience. These IT technologies can help book workspaces, brew a cup of coffee, sync to microphones for important announcements, and more.

To improve efficiency, employees no longer need swipe cards to get into the building. You can communicate through an IoT connected doorbell for any deliveries or visits. These little changes can help eliminate the small nuances of workplace inefficiency.

With smart technology, you can give your employees are more comfortable workspace while also increasing their motivation.

 

4 key benefits of smart buildings

Smart buildings can generate a lot of data, and that data can be valuable when it comes to making decisions about your operations and space. Analysing the data can help you identify trends in a number of areas, such as how people use the building, which spaces are occupied the most, what utilities cost the most and where can savings be made. Above all, building data can help you optimise your building, bringing a number of benefits, such as:

  • Reducing operating costs
  • Improving building efficiency
  • Space optimisation (rightsizing)
  • Increase productivity

 

Increased productivity

A building that has good indoor air quality, security, cleanliness and lighting will enable your building occupants to work better. Research has shown that comfortable employees are happier, and happier employees are more productive.

 

Reduce operating costs

Overheads are a significant cost for any building owner. It’s common to procure more space than you need, but with business rates skyrocketing it has never been more important to understand exactly how much space you’ll need. IoT sensors can give you the data you need to understand how little or how much your space is used. Identifying patterns in the data can help you reduce real estate costs significantly.

 

Space optimisation

Identifying how your building occupants use your building is crucial to understanding how to improve the layout, size and structure of your building. For example, if there is an area in your building with high footfall, you could repurpose other areas to ensure people can move about freely. Additionally, enabling space booking can help you understand who uses what spaces and when, so you can make important decisions when deciding on property acquisition and layouts.

 

Reduce energy usage

Energy efficiency is a big one when it comes to smart building analytics. Virtually no building manager or owner wants to spend more than they have to on utilities and energy. IoT sensors that monitor occupancy can tell you if energy is wasted in a certain area. Perhaps the lights and air conditioning are on at all times. Instead, it could be turned off automatically when the sensors recognise that no occupants are present. 

 

Smart Building Solutions

So, what is a smart building? Simply put, a smart building can help you create a comfortable, efficient, and adaptable environment for your home, office, or even your hospital.

Smart buildings are here to stay and will only get smarter. The possibilities of this technology are endless.

 

If you’re looking to implement smart building technologies in your office or commercial space, contact us today!

Picture of Mark Sorsa-Leslie

Mark Sorsa-Leslie

A Chartered Surveyor with a passion for technology. Developed a range of computer applications to support my work in real estate in the UK and 5 business start-ups so far. Over the last 25 years I have developed solutions ranging from eLearning platforms to IoT sensors and have been the bridge between business people and technology people throughout my career.

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