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Smart Building Technology and the Office

Though what we currently think of when we envision a smart building — a fully tech-enabled, supercomputer of the future — has only been around since the start of the 21st century, one could argue that concepts for building automation dated back to as early as the 17th century. 

During that time, a self-taught European mechanic named Cornelis Drebbel invented the mercury thermostat. Despite its small size, his invention had huge implications for current-day HVAC systems: it could automatically keep a space at a constant temperature, becoming one of the first feedback-controlled devices in history. Additionally, Drebbel went on to develop one of the first air conditioning systems by using salt as a cooling agent. Over time, these primitive innovations inspired others to create even more advanced systems — resulting in many of the building automation technologies that we see and use today.

Yet again, we now are at a point in history where building innovation has reached an exponential incline. Smart buildings — which use technology to optimize building performance, communicate between various technology systems, and ease the everyday processes of building occupants — are thus constantly evolving.

Learn more about what makes a smart building and the smart building sector below.

What Are Smart Buildings?

In general, the smart building definition revolves around buildings that leverage technology to quickly disseminate information between building systems in order to optimize performance and create easy, seamless experiences for building occupants. Though there are many types of smart buildings, all of these tech-enabled meccas have one thing in common: they are desirable for tenants and visitors due to their modern and unique amenities, as well as their custom solutions for any need. With so many ways to achieve results, smart building features vary — there is truly no one-size-fits-all solution for how property teams can take advantage of the various smart building services to create efficiencies in the workplace and enhance the tenant experience.

When addressing the needs of a modern workforce, smart building systems are likely to witness an even larger rise in popularity. Current-day concerns surrounding health and safety needs for the office are at the forefront of many conversations, including those surrounding better ventilation and air quality to reduce the spread of viruses. A need for more touchless experiences, in order to help building occupants avoid touching public surfaces that could be a source of potential contamination, are also all features and experiences that property teams can control and automate through the implementation of smart building solutions.

The Rise of the Smart Building Technology Market

All smart building technology trends point to a bright and fruitful future. According to MarketsandMarkets, “the smart buildings market […] size is expected to grow from USD 66.3 billion in 2020 to USD 108.9 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5% during the forecast period. The major drivers for the smart building include the rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems, rising awareness of space utilization, increased industry standards and regulations, and increased demand for energy-efficient systems.”

Not only does the latest smart building market forecast anticipate a significant increase in the adoption of smart building technologies, but it also points to specific trends driving this new wave of technological innovation. Clevair breaks down six smart building industry trends for the year 2021, all of which can be applied to the office sector:

  1. Real-time Energy Monitoring: A major benefit of smart building solutions is their ability to streamline previously antiquated processes. This is no different for energy bills and other building footprint measurements. Modern building management software can not only give property teams access to energy data in real-time, but also help you define thresholds and predict forecasts for your building.
  2. HVAC Control: Manual HVAC systems in older buildings cannot adjust based on building occupancy. In today’s day and age, it’s important to incorporate smart sensors that can communicate with your HVAC system to provide real-time occupancy data as well as save you energy costs as it adjusts to your building occupants’ varying usage throughout the day.
  3. Air Quality Control: In the same way smart buildings can monitor and improve HVAC systems, they can also help with your building’s air quality. Sensors can help detect indoor environmental factors such as humidity and heat. They can also detect the presence of gasses such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen, to help increase or decrease clean airflow into particular rooms when needed without physical intervention.
  4. Energy Optimization: As suggested by the first smart building trend, smart buildings can also optimize energy usage across your building in a variety of ways. Systems such as HVAC, lighting, and more can turn on or off automatically depending on building occupancy, while also detecting underperforming hardware that needs to be replaced to further save energy.
  5. Remote Management: Since all of these features can basically automate themselves without the need of physical interference, smart buildings also indicate that these can all be operated remotely for any building. From lighting to building access, to HVAC, property teams can adjust any aspect of their building depending on specific needs.
  6. An Influx of Software: Smart buildings surprisingly don’t require a lot of hardware — their software-centric nature means that property teams can convert even the oldest of buildings into a modern workplace if they so desire. These modern solutions are made to integrate with a building’s existing technology infrastructure, and also often run off of cloud-based platforms. A smart building using IoT or cloud technologies can help implement all of these solutions quickly and at scale.

The Most Innovative Smart Buildings Examples

Though various types of smart buildings examples can be found across any industry, they have seen a huge increase in adoption in the commercial real estate market. Innovative smart building technologies have been integrated into many buildings across the globe, with a few notable Singapore smart building examples such as their concept turned reality at Bosch campus and the Capital Tower building. These smart building technology examples are examples of the recent modernization of office building technology, and include establishing more touchless experiences, increasing communications among various building systems, and creating outstanding and automated customer experiences.

The Top Building Automation Companies

When looking for the best smart technology solutions, there is truly no “Top 10 Building Automation Companies” list. In fact, with the over 8,000 proptech companies available in the CRE market, the possibilities are endless. HqO’s growing Marketplace of best-in-class technology partners can help aggregate numerous smart building systems for any office building. Through its operating system, landlords and property teams can activate the best smart building technology companies and features to meet any building’s needs. HqOS™ technology partners fall under the following categories: 

  1. Access Control: Security is among the most notable smart building IoT solutions. Through access control capabilities, owners can enable tenants to gain access to their office buildings with just the tap of a phone.
  2. Emergency Communications: Another critical smart building solution is the ability to communicate critical safety information to building occupants in a quick and efficient manner.
  3. Order Ahead: A smart-enabled technology platform can increase safety and convenience for your tenants, such as integrating with local retailers to allow them to place orders ahead and reduce friction.
  4. Resource Booking: Smart building technologies have also made resource booking even more seamless. Smart building sensors coordinate with your existing software to assist in more efficient room booking management, from conference rooms to event spaces and everything in between, making organizing your day a seamless process.
  5. Service Booking: Technologies used in smart buildings can also be utilized to activate your building amenities. Tenants can take advantage of easy-to-book services, fitness classes, and more.
  6. Service Requests: Since smart buildings enhance a building’s efficiencies, the building and maintenance staff still plays an essential role. Enter service request solutions, where tenants can communicate with building managers for work orders, cleaning services, and more.
  7. Shuttle Tracking: Shuttle tracking technologies can help you understand your tenants’ commuting behaviors and determine the best-fit transit solutions for any property.
  8. Ticketing: Smart ticketing can help grant tenants access to key property experiences and partner services with scannable visuals. The process is quick, convenient, and contactless.
  9. Visitor Registration: Contactless visitor registration can also be easily integrated into a building through a smart building system. Speed up the visitor registration process while also ensuring modern safety and security protocols are met.

Now, owners and property teams all over the world can set the right smart building examples by leveraging technology partners to differentiate their assets and enhance their tenant experience strategies.

Investing in the Right Toolset for Your Next Smart Building Project

The recent modernization of office building technology has been used for a plethora of smart building ideas, which means every landlord and property team needs to have the right technology stack in place to make their office building technology shine. Alongside a marketplace of partners, smart buildings of the future will also require an end-to-end operating system that can ensure these varying technologies are all interoperable, scalable, and efficient. 

The HqOS operation system for tenant experience can not only accomplish these feats, but also provide an advanced data collection and analytics offering to help property teams get ahead by providing meaningful data about their end-users through the various technology activations in their buildings. Through the HqOS Headquarters, alongside ongoing consultation from our technology and tenant experience experts, property teams can also take advantage of easy-to-use deployment capabilities, as well as ongoing smart building technology training and consultation to guarantee a successful, modern workplace. 

Ultimately, smart buildings of the future will have to be environments where people feel comfortable and excited to work. In order to accomplish this, the workplace needs to become as dynamic and adaptable as modern tenants’ needs. This indicates that office buildings need to be smart to make the end-user journey as safe, easy, and seamless as possible. To learn more about how HqO can help with all your smart building needs, schedule your free demo today. 

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