What is Smart Building?

smart building

A smart building is a structure that utilizes automated processes to control the building’s operations like ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, heating, security, sanitation, and other core systems. 

These systems are linked together by Internet Protocol (IP) to collect data from the building. This allows the building to deliver services using the least amount of energy for lower costs and decreased environmental impact. 

Smart buildings help business owners, property managers, and occupants to be more efficient. The emergence of smart buildings has impacted infrastructures significantly by giving more to customers than just energy efficiency.

What is a Smart Building Energy Management System?

A Smart Building Energy Management System (SBEMS) is used to manage information technology employed in modern buildings. SBEMSs optimize total building performance by connecting independently operating subsystems integrating them into a smart power grid, making all the building’s operations visible in one place.

A Smart Building Energy Management System allows for computer-based interactions between the building, its equipment, and the operators and occupants. It constantly collects all the available building data to empower decision-makers with new levels of visibility, control, and actionable information to react proactively to potential problems.

An SBEMS also makes it possible for a building to be intelligent without much effort. The system only has to be integrated with sensors, actuators, and microchips which generate valuable data needed to automatically control conditions across an entire building.  The system also has modules to handle floods and fire.

Why You Need A Building Energy Solution

There are many advantages to having a smart building. Having a smart building creates an attractive place to work, enhances decision-making across the organization, supports sustainability efforts, helps with the productivity of the facility staff, and improves building operations – all while reducing operational costs and refining overall occupant experience.

These gains from having a smart building are made possible through the use of a building energy solution. It is much better than a regular building because it consumes less energy and it takes less effort and money to maintain. 

Since a building energy solution uses information technology to automate building operations and collects data in real-time, there are fewer errors and failures. Fewer errors and failures allow business owners to better comply with regulations and decrease the building’s carbon emissions.

These are the major benefits that come with a building energy solution:

Workplace and productivity improvement

A smart building outfitted with smart systems improves health conditions significantly. Using wireless sensors to monitor CO2 levels and harmful small particles inside and outside the building systems are able to send out warnings that help businesses adjust ventilation, replace filters, and turn systems off as needed.

Continuous monitoring of air quality can boost employee cognitive functions and improve their overall health. Additionally, optimized cooling and ventilation equipment guarantees physical comfort, sanitation, and security. Optimal delivery of these elements helps to enable occupant performance and production.

This improvement in productivity is directly related to the improvement of the building environment.  When productivity increases, there’s less attrition and sick leave making any spending on creating a smart building a worthy investment. This can also result in attracting better-qualified talent to the workplace.

Upgraded user control 

Smart buildings are designed to adapt to the needs and expectations of the people that use them. This adaptability sets a new standard in building control. A smart building is more person-centered and creates a more satisfying experience for the user.

Some smart buildings include features like facial recognition, voice assistance, wayfinding, and personalized alerts that can be delivered to the users. These extra upgrades can also include access to smart lockers, bike racks, parking, delivery lockers, and even discounts in local shops and restaurants

The building/user interaction available in smart buildings allows occupants to adjust temperatures or book meeting rooms – all from one central place. They can also enjoy smart lighting (also called human-centric lighting), a feature that mimics the natural light progression of daylight to follow the circadian rhythm and change brightness according to occupant needs.

Furthermore, building managers, developers, and owners benefit from the real-time data which lets them fine-tune processes to lower energy and maintenance costs. It also helps their capability for more effective build management and optimized human resources.

Significant operational savings

There are many ways a smart building saves you money. Here are the key operations most optimized by a building energy solution: 

  • Maintenance – A smart building assumes a proactive role in its maintenance by using analytical algorithms to detect issues before they cause expensive outages helping facility managers save money and better manage their building.
  • Infrastructure adaptability – Smart buildings are more immune to disruption and constant modification because they are designed to be more flexible. Intelligent buildings are highly adaptable to the demands of changing times, as any building of the future should be.
  • Power consumption – The smart building energy solution significantly reduces everyday spending by identifying underutilized resources and maximizing the potential for growth in unused spaces. The building can also receive signals from the utility company to alter its electricity usage giving substantial savings on energy costs.
  • Bundling – By purchasing different smart technologies and products working in synergy, companies can save costs and time. Bundling also saves owners of old buildings significant retrofitting costs. 

Building self-learning

Smart buildings are not only designed for you, they also get to know you through cameras, sensors, automation, and monitors. Using integration with the main building management system to capture movement within the building, smart buildings are able to self-manage, learn, anticipate, and adapt on their own, without the need for the intervention or recognition of their users. 

Smart buildings learn user needs, they remember user preferences and make predictions. The capacity to learn comes in handy when adjusting settings like room temperatures, lighting, shading, and energy and water utilization. 

The use of cameras and sensors provides precise data on how the building is being used, enabling actionable, living intelligence. This makes building occupancy more convenient in many ways including:

  • Intelligent parking
  • Self-sustaining ecosystems
  • Insightful decision-making

Building security

Smart buildings can exist off the grid making them more resilient to system hacks. While smart buildings have IoT devices installed throughout the building, data will still be protected because they measure data without using identifiable images of staff or the public.

Additionally, access control systems like badge readers can add a layer of security that spots unwanted visitors and grants visiting employees permission to enter the building.

Why Intelligent Buildings Are the Future

Smart buildings are your future. They have digital strategies and technologies to leverage data that allows them to increase productivity, savings, revenues, and building adaptability – all of which are needed for you to keep up with your competition. Investing in smart building technologies may have a cost, but they have advantages that make the investment worthwhile.

Operational excellence and ease

Building automation through wireless systems makes monitoring and building management easier and more accessible. Using different systems both inside and outside the building allows your building to communicate and can be utilized to increase communication with city infrastructure paving the way for a smarter city.

Decreased carbon footprint

A building energy solution turns buildings into virtual power generators which can shed electric load and return negawatts back to the market for a profit. negawatts are units of energy saved and returned to the grid. This fundamentally reshapes the way you consume energy and makes the electric grid more robust and reliable. 

The more energy conserved, the lower your utility costs will be. More importantly, if you reduce the size of your carbon footprint, you can help the world become greener and healthier.

Sustainability

The benefits that come with a Smart building are not temporary: they extend throughout its entire lifetime, therefore making it sustainable. Wireless functionality in the smart building gives you the flexibility and simple installation necessary to make retrofitting an older building or integrating older technology easier.

Using computer engineering smart building designers are able to develop increasingly better applications for better machine learning, energy optimization, and value-generating services. This adaptability makes smart buildings more sustainable from an investment standpoint giving your business a competitive advantage.

Impact on human and capital resources

Smart buildings go far beyond saving energy and contributing to sustainability goals. They improve user experience by placing more thought and dimensions which improves the function of a commercial building. Smart buildings impact efficiency by leveraging the connection between formerly independent systems. This connection causes ripples across human and capital resources.

By adopting smart building technology, you improve foundational possibilities across your entire real estate portfolio. Data on a portfolio-wide view is poised to create an evolutionary leap within the real estate industry. 

Return on investment

Smart buildings offer a faster return on investment. However, their ROI is not only measured by financial gains: it is far more dimensional and requires a holistic, full-bodied evaluation.

Apart from the more conspicuous ROI based on energy savings and tax incentives, a smart building has many non-financial benefits, like improved employee productivity and wellbeing, that are not easily quantifiable with numbers. 

More importantly, investing in smart buildings means designing for the future. They are built for easier modification and quicker reintegration of engineering systems which advances the user experience and the value of the building.

While creating a smarter building may involve some cost, it should not be seen as an expense but as an investment. Meaningful ROI can take some time to realize, but if you want to improve your business it can take investment. Besides, most smart buildings are designed to immediately repay their investment cost by reducing utility costs significantly in the first year.

Companies that want to take control of their real estate, while supporting their people, need to have holistic smart technologies and strategies in place for their buildings. Smart buildings are exactly what they need. 

Indeed, smart buildings are the way to go forward. The agile and adaptable architecture that characterizes smart buildings revolutionizes information integration, security controls, and the way we treat the workplace in such a profound way. They may be relatively new today, but given the wide range of benefits that they offer, will soon become the norm.

If you’re looking to create a smarter building today, contact ActiveBAS to learn how we can help you smarten up your building at no-upfront costs.