The Smart Building Advantage: Comfort, Safety, Convenience and Responsiveness

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term “smart building,” it is a building constructed or retrofitted with internet-connected sensors, devices and appliances. It represents the next step in how and where we’ll live and work in the future, and it will increase operational efficiency, reduce utility costs and improve the quality of daily life for building tenants and managers.

This is all being made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the term given to all the devices that collect, send and receive data via the internet. Entire industries are beginning to embrace IoT innovations, including banking, health care, transportation and, of course, design and construction. As more devices and sensors are added to the IoT, the potential for analysis and control over the built environment increases.

The smart building market is projected to grow from $60 billion in 2019 to $105 billion by 2024, with an annual growth rate of 11.7%. The major factors driving the smart building market include not only the rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems, but also new regulations and requirements, cost savings related to proactive utility management, and the need to improve the safety, comfort and productivity of building tenants. Smart buildings of the future will enrich occupants’ experience by offering convenience, better health, security and comfort, while consuming fewer resources.

The benefits of employing smart building technology can be broken down into four primary classifications: Comfort, Safety, Convenience and Responsiveness. These benefits have the potential for significant, measurable cost savings and return on investment.

It is estimated that even small changes in temperature can have a dramatic effect on worker productivity. Smart energy management systems can turn lights on and off, raise and lower thermostat temperatures and handle HVAC control systems based on occupancy, without the need for human intervention.
Potential cost savings: reduced staff turnover, reduced lease turnover, savings on heating and cooling

Security and surveillance systems will lock and unlock doors based on visual identification, even contacting the authorities or emergency services when warranted. A “digital twin” of the building supports indoor navigation and wayfinding, quickly routing security and emergency personnel to trouble spots.
Potential cost savings: lower insurance costs, reduced or eliminated business downtime

Smart infrastructure management can automate parking systems and control water usage, and can manage elevators, escalators and conference rooms. This improves productivity and the tenant experience.
Potential cost savings: reduced lease turnover, savings on electricity and water costs, better space management

By leveraging data, building operators can see indicators of potential problems and take corrective actions before products and systems fail. Companies can save approximately 15% of their annual capital asset spending by optimizing existing building assets and prioritizing maintenance.
Potential cost savings: cost-effective predictive maintenance, reduced or eliminated business downtime

It is estimated there will be 62 billion devices connected via IoT by 2024. The amount of data that IoT devices generate is doubling approximately every 40 weeks. Building managers and operators can leverage these new technologies and networks to provide better environments for their tenants and simultaneously reduce their operating budgets.

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Frank Orr

Senior Geospatial Consultant Frank Orr, GISP, PMP, works out of Woolpert’s Denver office. Orr develops strategic GIS programs, implementations and solutions for Woolpert's federal, state, local, utility and commercial clients.