Automation checklist: What makes your building smart?

smart buildings

As with people, the definition of what makes a building “smart” can be nebulous. People can have a high degree of cognitive intelligence, but be “stone cold” when it comes to emotional intelligence. If this were a psychology journal, we could delve into dozens of facets of the mind that contribute to a person’s intelligence. Similarly, there are dozens of factors that can indicate a building’s “intelligence”. For example, buildings can be programmed to cycle HVAC systems up and down in accordance with peak hours, but burn electricity all night long by leaving too many lights on in common spaces.

A full list of categories that contribute a building’s intelligence, along with an examination key enabling technologies, and leading use cases can be accessed here: “Transforming the workplace: Automation technology and use cases for smart buildings.”

However, for quick reference, here’s a simple cheat sheet:

  • The systems ripe for automation: HVAC, lighting, fire and safety, access and control, and water supply are the key elements of a building that can be made much more dynamic using the enabling technologies listed below. When properly instituted, and centrally controlled, intelligent automation can result in a finely tuned workplace that not only cuts energy consumption costs by up to 40%, but also creates spaces that are much more conducive to higher levels of worker creativity and production.
  • The key enabling technologies in intelligent building automation: Industrial IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and the Cloud will all play vital roles in creating the intelligent building of the future. Of course, this will also create new demands on the IT managers within tenant organizations, and require commercial real estate facilities managers to become much more tech-savvy.  By extention, this creates professinal services opportunities with in the large ecosystem of building automation suppliers.
  • The business drivers for intelligent building automation: When selling the value of building automation to decision makers, a focus on technical capabilities will often fall flat.  Especially when dealing with C-suite stakeholders, use cases that help to show business value creation, and compeling ROI models are vital benchmarks that need to be met. The good news is that intelligent building automation can add business value to nearly every industry. Of course, as with any technology-driven innovation, there will be use cases that serve as the proverbial “low-hanging fruit.” In this case, healthcare, manufacturing, and restaurant/hospitality are three industries with clear and compelling reasons for holistic intelligent automation solutions.