In the age of the service economy, increasing numbers of people are working in commercial office buildings and experiencing an intense digital transformation of their roles. It's natural, in this environment, for business leaders to look for building spaces that reflect their digital aspirations.
This is where smart buildings come in. The technology incorporated in the 'buildings of the future' has advantages for employers and employees alike, and its impacts are already being felt. In this article we'll define smart building technology, and explore three of its key drivers in the contemporary commercial market.
What is a smart building, and what is smart building technology?
A smart building makes use of automated processes to control key functions. Smart technology is the brains behind this functionality. It leverages Iot connectivity, the cloud and sensors in order to assess and influence systems such as security, lighting and air conditioning.
The acronym SMART stands for 'Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology', and, in terms of building tech, the concept can be broken down into two categories:
1. Tech that optimises a user's experience, operational flexibility and user customisation.
2. Tech that provides general operational efficiencies regarding both person hours, and energy or resource consumption.
With this definition in mind, let's examine how smart building technology is changing the commercial market.
1. Improved sustainability
With ever-increasing scrutiny from consumers and legislators, businesses need to do everything they can to make their processes and practices more sustainable. Smart technology has much to contribute here by enabling businesses to reduce energy and resource consumption. Indeed, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that digitalisation could cut total energy use in commercial and residential buildings by up to 10 per cent between 2017 and 2040.
Such improvements would be thanks to features such as smart lighting and smart HVAC systems. These assets could apply a broad range of algorithms, based on real-time data, that identify the hows and whens of a building's operation, and produce an environment to match.
2. A better working environment
A businesses' most important resource is its employees, and smart building technology holds a number of advantages for this group:
1. A user centric design: The building, its services and management of the work process all contribute to the wellbeing of people within an organisation. Research indicates that productivity relies on high morale and satisfaction within the workplace. Health, wellbeing and comfort are all important and as such, intelligent buildings have an important role to play in helping to achieve this. They can enhance human resources and providing environmental systems which support the productive, creative and intellectual capacities of people.
2. Enhanced digital collaboration: Offices are heavily reliant on digital communications, and smart building technology can make this essential collaboration easier and tailored to users' specific needs. For example, integrated audio visual technology within smart conference rooms allows for smooth collaboration with remote colleagues. And simple connectivity makes it easy to stream presentations when sharing ideas with team members.
3. Reduced costs
Smart building technology also has real cost-saving capabilities for commercial businesses, which fall into a number of categories:
1. Lower energy bills - Decreasing energy consumption brings down overhead costs. For example, a Gartner press release reported that smart lighting can reduce lighting energy costs by 90 per cent.
2. Increased staff retention - Increased morale due to a comfortable and convenient workplace will reduce attrition, and therefore the expenses associated with hiring and training new staff.
3. Better forecasting - Smart technology allows for data driven decisions that enable organisations to look to the future. Eventually, companies will no longer spend maintenance budgets for manual inspections on items with a low risk of failure. Automated algorithms will detect when equipment starts to deviate from expected performance, and then request attendance from the appropriate party.
In this exciting time of technological development, businesses are finding that smart structures are meeting their digital needs in a way that legacy buildings cannot. To stay relevant in the commercial space will soon demand a level of smart integration. If you're interested in investing in intelligent builds, get in touch with the Investa team today.
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