What is a Smart Building?

Smart everything is on the rise- smart phones, big data and even home organization. Temperature and light controls have gone from thermostats on the wall to a WiFi-controlled mobile app. But what exactly does it mean to be in a “smart” building?

The term “smart” is used to describe advanced sensors, actuators and related devices. A smart device (like a phone) is operated by a microprocessor, has programming to execute a pre-defined set of actions or sequence of operations, and communicates with external systems via some form of data network.

So what does this mean for the buildings that make up the cities, suburbs and industrial parks where we live, work and shop? Smart buildings seek to deliver all of the useful services that make occupants productive and comfortable (illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, security, sanitation, etc.) at a lower cost and environmental impact over the building lifecycle. In order to do this, intelligent features must be added at the beginning of the design phase through the end of the building’s useful life.

Smart buildings use information technology during operation to connect a variety of subsystems, which typically operate independently. When these systems can share information, building performance can be optimized. Smart buildings are also connected and responsive to the smart power grid, and they interact with building operators and occupants to empower them with new levels of visibility and actionable information.

According to a report from Zion Market Research, the global smart building market is on the rise. The report projects the market value to increase from $7 billion in 2014 to $36 billion in 2020, growing at a compound annual rate of 30%. Geographically, Europe led in smart building adoption in 2014, with Asia Pacific and North America following.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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