What is Smart Building Technology?

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What is meant by smart building?

The term “smart building” refers to any structure that uses automated processes to automatically control operations within the building; this includes heating, lighting, security, ventilation, air conditioning and other systems. Smart building technology collects data and allows owners, operators and facility managers to control a building’s operations. This helps improve asset reliability and performance, which reduces both energy use and environmental impact, whilst optimising how space is used within the building.

Many buildings remain “unconnected”, and whilst they have provided the essentials, these buildings have remained at the same efficiency level for years. But newer buildings, or older structures that have been converted to smart buildings, are constantly changing. They are living organisms connected to a network with intelligent and adaptable software.

At the most fundamental level, smart building technology improves productivity with optimised lighting, temperature, air quality and more, all whilst reducing energy costs and environmental impact. Smart buildings can take many forms, including smart office buildings, hospitals, educational facilities, stadiums and retail centres.

Benefits of smart building technology

1. Reducing energy consumption

One of the primary functions of smart building technology is to reduce unnecessary use. The amount of energy saved depends on the system used and the type of building, but energy consumption is often reduced by around 5% – 35% with the use of smart biulding technology.

As well as the obvious financial benefits this creates, it is also a much more efficient and effective approach to meeting green goals.

2. Improving building efficiency

Smart building technology gives great insights into how a building is being used, by collecting data-protection-safe information through unobtrusive cameras and thermal sensors. Smart systems are able to react to this information, and make adjustments accordingly; for example, adjusting how heating and lighting are used throughout the building.

Sensors can also be used to track space occupancy patterns, identifying overused and underused areas in the building. This provides the opportunity to optimise space utilisation, which in turn can facilitate growth.

3. Predictive maintenance

Equipment maintenance and repairs can be costly for businesses, however, are necessary as, without proper maintenance, building equipment needs replacing much more frequently.

Smart building technology tackles this issue. Sensors monitor and report on building performance, predicting when equipment requires maintenance, before any issues become too serious – and costly. When you have a more insightful overview of how the building is operating – and used – it’s far easier to implement maintenance at the right time.

4. Getting more from the building occupants

Smart buildings have been specifically designed to deliver a more comfortable experience for their occupants. They can raise standards and ensure that health and safety considerations are being met, as well as ensure that this is implemented in a cost efficient way. Smart buildings make people more productive by continually monitoring building use and adjusting systems to ensure that occupants have the facilities that they need.

5. More efficient planning and use of resources

The data generated by smart building technology provides useful insights for the planning and use of resources. This takes the guesswork out of resource management, instead drawing on real-time, accurate intelligence.

Smart building technology examples

1. Capital Tower, Singapore

Spanning 52 stories, this office building won awards for its construction and design, as well as its energy and water efficiency.

The Capital Tower uses smart building technology in a number of ways, including an energy recovery wheel system in its air-conditioning unit, which allows cool air to be recovered to maintain the chillers’ efficiency.

Double-glazed glass windows reduce heat penetration and minimise energy consumption, whilst motion detectors installed at the lift lobby and toilets also work to conserve energy. The building uses condensation from the air handling unit to reduce water usage, and air quality is monitored and optimised throghout the building.

2. Hindmarsh Shire Council Corporate Centre, Australia

The Hindmarsh Shire Council offices was designed to improve energy efficiency while also enhancing the office environment for employees. The building is located in an area that’s exposed to extreme temperature conditions, and the architects wanted to use this to their advantage. They built a series of underground thermal chambers and a ventilation system under the floor to draw in fresh air from the exterior.

Air is naturally cooled or warmed by the earth, before being redistributed back through the building. Energy is drawn in through rooftop solar panels, whilst inside, LED lighting systems reduce energy consumption and maintenance. Cross-flow ventilation and zoned motion-detecting lighting also improves energy efficiency, while vertical green walls enhance indoor air quality.

3. Burj Khalifa, Dubai

As well as being the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa is also one of the smartest and most sustainable.

Several smart building technology projects have been implemented in its marquee venue, which improved air quality, lighting and temperature for its residents. The building automation system relays real-time information to an intelligent technology platform, which uses smart algorithms to identify anomalies and maintenance issues. Facility managers can use this information to improve building maintenance and asset reliability; since launching this system at the Burj Khalifa, facility managers have reduced total maintenance hours by 40 per cent.

Could smart building technology help your business?

If you feel that your business could be doing more to improve efficiency, reduce energy costs, or anything else discussed, get in touch with Next Controls today.

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