How Buildings Got to be So Smart

Smart building technology has arrived and is rapidly changing the landscape of commercial office space.

For example, an unused conference room where the sun streams through uncovered windows, thus heating up the space, is not the best use of the space. Additionally, employees are not the most comfortable or productive when they are utilizing space heaters under desks because they are freezing or using fingerless gloves as they type on a keyboard.

“Sally, the employee, for instance, can step into her work lobby and with artificial intelligence (AI), the onsite Starbucks will soon have her favorite latte ready within minutes,” explains Jim Pirot, managing principal of Project Management Cresa. “This cutting edge technology is being utilized everywhere.”

Today’s millennials, for instance, almost automatically sync their mobile phones to a Bluetooth image when they see one. As a result, a repeat guest at a hotel can enter their room to find their family picture showcased in a digital frame or view their television channel preferences, Pirot tells

The commercial real estate market, which initially lagged behind other industry sectors technology-wise, is quickly catching up and smart buildings are in theforefront.

What makes a smart building “smart?’
According to Cresa’s report, “Smart Buildings and the Advent of the Frictionless CRE and Tenant Experience,” smart buildings fall into two primary categories: an integrated building management system and physical sensors.

Integrated Building Management System (BMS). Data collected from hard-wired or wireless sensors is aggregated within an intricate building management system and combined with other data-sources including employee and equipment data plus external data sources, the report states.

“The most advanced smart BMS systems process and analyze all this data in real time, developing useful insights that can be used to improve building operations,” says Pirot.

Sensors. IoT-enabled sensors are installed at important points in a building’s mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing infrastructure. These devices collect data related to light, temperature, motion, humidity, pressure, and other related factors, and wirelessly relay that data back to a central, integrated building management system.

According to the report, for new construction, sensors are typically installed along with the building systems. For existing, occupied buildings, wireless sensors can be added without ripping open walls and ceilings.

“The real value in smart buildings are the insights that the system delivers based on the data it collects plus the automations that are possible as the sensors and the system communicate between each other and develop learned responses. Smart building technology learns from every piece of equipment across all the buildings in which it is installed,” concludes Pirot.