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What is Smart Building Technology?

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 smart building features below.

What is a Smart Building?

In short, smart buildings use technology to quickly disseminate information between building systems in order to optimize performance and create easy, seamless experiences for building occupants. These tech-enabled meccas 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 components vary — there is truly no one-size-fits-all solution for how property teams can leverage technology in buildings to create efficiencies and enhance their tenant experience.

Smart Building Technologies

Now that we have defined what smart buildings are, we can dive into smart building technologies and the smart building solutions they provide. According to ServiceChannel, seven of the most influential smart building technology examples are: internet of things (IoT) systems, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, building automation, aerial drones, building information modeling (BIM), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). 

The technologies used in smart buildings can work together to manage and control everything from a building’s lighting and HVAC systems to a building’s security. With current sustainability initiatives and the recent modernization of the office sector, the smart building industry is expected to quadruple its market valuation by the year 2023.

Smart Building Examples

Smart building technology companies have helped create some of the smartest buildings in the world. Some smart building examples include The Edge in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington; and Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China.

The Edge serves as Deloitte’s Amsterdam headquarters and uses 70 percent less electricity than the average office building. Its building app enables building occupants to tune into the office from the moment you wake up: it can check your schedule, reserve a parking spot for you, select a desk depending on the day, controls your lighting and temperature preferences per room, and more.

The Bullitt Center’s design was inspired by a forest. Its solar array mimics a forest canopy by providing filtered light to the streets below. These solar panels generate about 60% more electricity than what the building uses annually. Its roof also collects rainwater which services all of the building’s needs.

Finally, Shanghai Tower incorporates a double-skin face that is home to its sky gardens which are located in each of the buildings’ nine vertical zones. It also provides extra insulation. Its sustainable measures, which also include geothermal energy, rainwater harvesting, and vertical axis wind turbines, reduce energy consumption by 22% and save hundreds of millions of gallons of water annually.

Smart Building Ideas for the Office

Though smart buildings can be found across any industry, they have seen a huge increase in adoption in the commercial real estate market. The recent modernization of office building technology has been used for a plethora of smart building ideas, including establishing more touchless experiences, increasing communications among various building systems, and creating outstanding and automated customer experiences. 

HqO’s growing Marketplace of best-in-class technology partners can help aggregate numerous smart technologies for any office building. Through its operating system, landlords and property teams can activate partners and features to meet any building’s needs. HqOS™ smart building technology examples 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.

Using smart technologies to save energy in existing buildings is no longer the only use-case for such tools; now, owners and property teams all over the world will be leveraging smart building IoT solutions and more to differentiate their assets and enhance their tenant experience strategies.

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