An image of a smart building

What Are Smart Buildings?

A Holistic Approach to Technology Built Around People

From regulations, to work orders, to occupant complaints, to pages of utility bills, buildings generate data every day and require the attention of a full team of people. But it’s not often clear what to do, and it’s all too easy to get lost in the noise.

The goal of smart buildings is to ultimately require less human intervention from distracting operational details, while enabling access to the right amount of information for better decision-making. You only have so much time and smart buildings help you make the most of this finite resource.

With the upcoming energy grades legislation, A’s through F’s will be publicly visible in lobbies across NYC starting in 2020. Your grade in 2020 will be based on 2019 energy usage, so it’s time to start planning now.

What Does a Smart Building Look Like?

All buildings have room for improvement. With a holistic roadmap in place, you can pursue smart upgrades incrementally or comprehensively. Smart is not a destination, but the process of learning and adapting to the needs of your building and team.

As buildings are unique and any building can be a smart building, not every technology solutions will apply to every building. Be wary of “one size fits all” technology solutions that are not aligned with the holistic long-term needs.


A graphic showing an old and new building, both with smart attributes


The Integration of Technology, Systems, and People


Smart buildings connect

Advances in technology have led to an influx of data, but it may not be in a form that is usable or sharable. To monitor and control systems across a building or portfolio, the systems must be able to communicate both today and tomorrow as technologies evolve. Standard communication protocols ensure inter-operability, choice, and flexibility.

  • Monitor and Control
  • Communication Standards
Building Systems

Smart buildings are holistic

Building systems have traditionally developed over time in silos, operating discretely. A smart approach accounts for the complex interactions between systems to provide comfortable, healthy spaces as efficiently as possible. By optimizing your existing equipment with thoughtful planning for future upgrades, smart buildings mean using less to deliver more. While technology is constantly evolving, there is wisdom in how buildings have been built and operated for the last 100 years. The deployment of technology for technology’s sake is fine for the next consumer product craze but is not a smart approach when it comes to bricks and mortar.

  • Exterior/Envelope
  • HVAC
  • Hot and Cold Water
  • Lighting
  • Solar, Cogen, and Batteries

Smart buildings inform

Data by itself isn’t enough to understand your building. Experience and judgment are needed, but decisionmakers need synthesis and actionable insights, not more dashboards and reports. Smart buildings collect and present information to uniquely address the goals and priorities of the owners, managers, operators, occupants, and service providers.

  • Owners and Managers
  • Operators
  • Occupants
  • Service Providers