In commercial real estate, smart buildings start by being future-ready

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Smart buildings offer a myriad of business benefits to help day-to-day real estate operations run smoothly and efficiently. But what happens when owners and occupiers are uncertain about their future needs? Being future-ready is the practical and cost-effective approach that can help you remain agile and prepared to address new issues by simply deploying smart applications as you go.

For many, the key to maintaining this flexibility is having the data necessary to assess a situation properly. The low cost and convenience of today’s sensors and network connectivity have made it substantially easier to ensure that all the data needed can be captured. Consequently, widespread instrumentation has become common as various sectors have immersed themselves in the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) movement.

The challenges of smart buildings

smart building

The commercial buildings sector has not been immune to the allure of IoT. In the white heat of technology, a pervasive idea has been promoted by some stakeholders that it is hard to find occupants for any built environment that does not incorporate all the IoT bells and whistles of a smart building.

The success and low cost of smart technologies have therefore lured some in commercial real estate into wanting to track anything and everything including energy spend and emissions, access control, lighting, heating, cooling, air quality, and CO2. However, it’s not necessary to start a smart journey with a fully connected supersystem – IoT-based technology can be deployed differently than technologies in the past.

Unlike older systems that needed to be integrated with a building during construction, smart technology requires only core infrastructure elements to be deployed and then new applications can be added later without costly expense. This approach helps make a building “smart-ready” and needed solutions can be added as conditions or compliance requires.  This provides building owners and occupiers with greater flexibility and can help them prioritize and meet their goals when they are ready.

Given this new way of choosing and deploying solutions, I am often asked the best way to prepare a building to be smart-ready and how does this flexible, pay-as-you grow approach work? This is an excellent question because it means that building owners can continuously focus on what they are trying to strategically achieve at their buildings rather than complexity and costs of their technology infrastructure.

Standards to help get the most from data and smart building technology

To get the most from smart building technology, it is critical to start with clear objectives.  This approach allows you to ignore the technology and think about which data points you will need to meet your goals. Lloret always recommends solutions such as EcoStruxure™ Building that can collect the data you need to achieve today’s goals, as well as being sustainable, resilient, efficient, and people-centric to meet future requirements for insights and actionable information.

When the needs of the tenant or end-user are unclear, it’s better to include infrastructure in the development that enables smart technology to be easily rolled out later. A smart-enabled building is an attractive proposition because it ensures the system is flexible and customizable to different requirements according to end-use, while not saddling the owner with unneeded technology and its associated costs. Where the end user is being consulted in the build-out, new standards can assist with objectives-setting to ensure the technology solution is fit for purpose.

Helping everyone from the developer to the tenant, the recently introduced WELL Building Standard offers a “performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through the air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.”  It provides a useful starting point for determining what data can help contribute to improving the workplace.

At the same time, SmartScore certification provides clarity about what constitutes a smart building as well as guidance on how to achieve such status. It incorporates best-in-class design, to ensure technology solutions are future-proofed and ready to provide tenants with a great experience. Over 200 London buildings have been or are currently going through the certification process.

 Help is available to develop a smart building that offers valuable benefits

It cannot be denied that making buildings smarter can pay a huge dividend. With the easing of lockdown requirements and as people begin returning to the workplace, data and automation will play an important role in ensuring that offices are correctly provisioned to meet the comfort and well-being requirements of reduced numbers of occupants.

In my opinion, there remains a fine line between a smart building and a smart business. Future-ready or smart-ready buildings provide a great way to reduce the risk and cost of deploying technology to meet occupant and ROI goals today and in the future. This should help owners stay focused on their business objectives and connect their technology choices directly with meeting government and occupant expectations. Companies like Lloret, are specialized in building management systems and smart control, and can provide objective advice and assistance to help owners and tenants set and reach their investment and business objectives.

For more information

For more information, visit the Lloret Group website.

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