The ultimate guide to smart buildings

Everything you need to know about smart building technology and smart building benefits!

The era of smart buildings

A few years ago, a building was just a building. Today, buildings have to be intelligent and connected. They have to be smart buildings. But what is a smart building and why should you invest in smart building technology?

Whether you are a building owner, a building manager, or an office worker smart buildings offer a range of opportunities and benefits, such as reduced energy consumption, cost savings, and increased comfort and productivity. 

In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about smart buildings so you have the tools to unlock the full potential of your spaces.

Smart buildings are buildings that use technology to control and optimize their systems and performance and to automate processes.

What is a smart building?

A smart building is any building that uses technology to automate processes to control and optimize its systems and performance. Just like a living, breathing organism, a smart building has a brain, the building management system, that controls other parts of the building’s body, such as air conditioning, heating, cooling, security systems, etc. 

Smart buildings are highly intelligent physical environments that enable building owners and building occupants to control and manage every inch of the facility in increasingly useful ways. Today, the majority of commercial buildings are born as smart buildings. Smart building systems and smart building applications are considered in the design process of the building to make it as sustainable, efficient, and smart as possible. 

However, any building is capable of becoming a smart building. This means that building owners and building occupants can retrofit smart building solutions to optimize their existing buildings. We will get back to this later.

What are the basic components of a smart building?

There are four basic components of smart buildings: Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and IoT devices, integrations, connectivity, and a building management system.

IoT sensors and devices
IoT sensors and IoT devices are an essential part of a smart building. By continuously monitoring the building’s performance, conditions, and various parameters of the indoor environment, such as air quality, temperature, and humidity, the IoT sensors gain valuable insights into the building and the needs of occupants.

Another key element of smart buildings is the ecosystem. Integrating building systems, sensors, devices, and cloud-based software ensures that all components can communicate with each other seamlessly and act as a cohesive whole. 

The IoT sensors and devices need to be connected to the internet to be able to communicate and connect. There is a wide range of connectivity options to choose from when creating a smart building. Which is right for your facility depends on the occupants' needs. However, cloud-based options are increasingly used.

Building Management System
The building management system (BMS), also called the building automation system (BAS) or the Building Automation and Control System (BACS), is a computer-based control platform that controls and monitors mechanical and electrical equipment. While all BMSs, BASs, and BACSs are not alike, they are generally synonymous. 

How does a smart building work?

Smart buildings work by fitting sensors onto the building’s core systems, such as lighting, security, HVAC system, etc., allowing the BMS to control these systems.

The BMS can communicate with the building’s equipment. Sensors throughout the facility send sensor data to the BMS in real-time. The BMS then uses this data to instantly adjust building systems accordingly, optimizing energy consumption, building operations, and more.

For instance, the BMS can be programmed to turn the HVAC system on and off at specific times or adjust heating, cooling, and the amount of ventilation based on CO2 levels and temperatures. Occupancy sensors can count the number of people in a room and adjust ventilation accordingly. Likewise, sensors can measure the temperature in several areas of the building, so heating and cooling are adapted to the actual temperature.

What are the benefits of a smart building?

The benefits of smart buildings are numerous - from energy efficiency to increased security, and they can make a significant impact on the occupants' health, productivity, and overall quality of life.

Improved energy efficiency
One of the most significant benefits of smart buildings is their ability to improve energy efficiency. As smart buildings are equipped with IoT sensors and control systems that can automatically adjust lighting, temperature, and other building systems based on occupancy and usage patterns, smart buildings offer reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills for building owners and occupants.

By using smart building technologies, energy consumption in buildings can be reduced by 30 to 80% , cutting costs and carbon emissions significantly.

IoT sensors help control and adjust lighting, temperature, ventilation, and more in smart buildings to the actual need to reduce energy wastage.

Enhanced occupant comfort

IoT sensors can detect changes in temperature, humidity, and air quality, and adjust building systems accordingly. This leads to improved indoor air quality, reduced noise pollution, and increased thermal comfort for occupants. 

Increased productivity

Automated lighting systems can mimic natural light patterns, which can improve mood and concentration levels. Furthermore, advanced climate control systems can maintain optimal temperatures, which can also improve focus and productivity levels.

Improved safety and security

Advanced surveillance systems and access control systems can monitor and control access to the building, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. Furthermore, smart buildings can detect and alert occupants to potential safety hazards, such as fires or gas leaks, improving overall safety levels.

Reduced maintenance costs

IoT sensors can detect and diagnose issues with building systems, enabling maintenance personnel to address issues quickly and efficiently. This leads to reduced maintenance costs, increased system reliability, and improved occupant satisfaction.

Talk to one of our experts

Paolo Bruschi VP Sales EMEA
Stevie Grossman Industry Manager, Corporate Offices
Becky Johnson Regional Sales Manager, UK & IE
Jesper Holdensen US Sales Manager
  • Paolo Bruschi VP Sales EMEA
  • Stevie Grossman Industry Manager, Corporate Offices
  • Becky Johnson Regional Sales Manager, UK & IE
  • Jesper Holdensen US Sales Manager

Examples of smart building technology

Smart building technologies encompass a wide range of systems and devices that help to optimize the energy efficiency, safety, security, and comfort of buildings. Some examples of smart building technologies include:

  • Smart thermostats: These can adjust the temperature of a building automatically based on occupancy and weather conditions.

  • Automated lighting systems: These can turn lights on and off based on occupancy or time of day, and can also adjust the brightness of lighting based on the amount of natural light available.

  • Building automation systems: These can integrate and control a range of building systems, such as HVAC, lighting, security, and access control.

  • Occupancy sensors: These can detect the presence of people in a room or building and adjust lighting, temperature, or other systems accordingly.

  • Energy management systems: These can monitor and optimize energy usage across a building, including HVAC, lighting, and other systems.

  • Security and access control systems: These can monitor and control access to a building, as well as detect and alert building occupants of potential security threats.

  • Smart windows: These can adjust their tint or opacity to optimize natural light and reduce energy usage.

  • Water management systems: These can monitor and control water usage in a building, detecting leaks or inefficiencies and alerting building managers.

  • Smart appliances: These can optimize energy usage and communicate with other building systems, such as a smart thermostat, to improve overall energy efficiency.

  • Renewable energy systems: These can generate energy from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, to power a building or offset energy usage.

Smart buildings and net zero

Net-zero energy usage is the goal of smart buildings - it means that a building produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. This is achieved through a combination of energy-efficient design, smart technology, and on-site renewable energy generation.

Net-zero buildings are becoming increasingly common as governments and organizations around the world work to reduce their carbon footprint and transition to a more sustainable future.

Benefits of smart buildings with net-zero energy usage:

Corporate offices in smart building
Reduced environmental impact
By generating their own energy and using it efficiently, these buildings significantly reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Lower operating costs
Energy-efficient design and renewable energy generation means lower utility bills and maintenance costs for building owners and tenants.
Improved occupant comfort
Smart building technology allows for precise control of heating, cooling, and lighting, which can lead to improved comfort and productivity for building occupants.

Increased resilience
In the event of a power outage or other disruption to the energy grid, net-zero buildings with on-site renewable energy generation are better able to maintain operations.
Frédéric Niang-Torreilles Regional Manager, France
Mark Kieffer Country Manager, DACH & CEE
Charles Barrow Sales Manager, Americas
Liam Shaw Sales Manager, APAC
  • Frédéric Niang-Torreilles Regional Manager, France
  • Mark Kieffer Country Manager, DACH & CEE
  • Charles Barrow Sales Manager, Americas
  • Liam Shaw Sales Manager, APAC

Start harnessing the smart building benefits today