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Smart Building Insights

What Is a Smart Building?


Smart building is a term bandied about quite often, but truly smart buildings are actually quite rare. What’s most common is to find buildings with some high-tech features that approach making it a smart building, but not quite meeting all of the core requirements.

So what is a smart building exactly?

In Effektiv’s view, a smart building is a building designed to to adapt and react to its environment and the needs of its stakeholders – the owners, operators, and tenants. While we focus on the active components, passive architectural components do play a foundational role in most cases.

A Strong Foundation

The smart building concept first emerged in the early 1980s, centered around the extensive use of intricate, centralized electronic systems to enable the control of building communication and control systems. Essentially, smart buildings use technology, actively and passively, to improve the building’s environment and functionalities for occupants while also monitoring costs and quality.

Improving building features (think security, comfort and accessibility) will enhance occupants’ productivity and comfort levels. Meanwhile, the owner-operator can offer above-market functionality to prospective tenants, reducing expensive occupancy gaps, and can cut down on operating and maintenance costs.

As an example, an effective system for energy management offers lower energy costs to both parties and cuts down on environmental impact. Information aggregated from different sources would help identify usage patterns and overall occupancy, so the control systems could then modulate energy availability and expenditures like lighting and HVAC to reduce waste.

Building Upward

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Understanding what constitutes a smart building is key to moving thinking and capabilities forward. Smart buildings are much more than a Nest thermostat in an office; they’re designed with intention, core and shell, to optimize desired dimensions. The building is smart and is built smart.

Smart buildings take advantage of passive approaches to improving light, ventilation, and energy efficiency. Smart buildings implement connected and adaptable core building systems that can modulate energy consumption to meet building demands. Smart buildings use open protocols and standards to ensure long-term maintainability, adaptability, and support of building systems.

Building on these core capacities, smart buildings can be automated and truly deliver on their hype.