We spend a lot of our time inside buildings. Whether it is in our house, in the office or in the gym. The next time you find yourself inside a building, take a moment to think about how that building makes you feel. Are you comfortable? “Why?”, you might ask. Because it is of great importance that a building supports you in what you are doing. And that is exactly what a smart building does. “It’s much more than just a trendy gimmick,” says Martijn Oprel, Portfolio Manager at Priva Building Automation.
A smart building is a building that does what exactly?
In order to talk about smart buildings, let’s make sure we are on the same page about the understanding of the concept. “Simply put, a smart building is a building that uses technology to optimally support the people and processes inside it.” begins Martijn.
Contextualization is key. If the building knows what users are doing and where, it can support them by making sure they have the optimal climate. “Whether you own a hotel and want to give the best guest experience possible or whether you own an office and want your employees to work in the most productive way, make sure your building supports them in what they are doing.”
Aligning the comfort inside your building to the needs of its users can be achieved by energy and comfort optimization. An example is balancing the energy use of your building and the comfort of your employees. It could also mean using smart devices so that a smart building can serve as a personal assistant by, for example, showing you the way around the office.
Focus on the people
Making your building smart is about using technology to help people in the building and make them feel special. How can a building make things easier for the people inside it? By meeting their needs.
Finding a free work space, a place to hold a meeting or a place to work in silence can be a real hassle. Technology makes it possible for your building to function as a personal assistant and support users with such things and even more.
Combining the location of a user’s phone with the sensors inside the building makes it possible for the building to know where there is free space or where it is quiet. The building can do the searching for you. The same technology can be used to change the environment and comfort to the users’ need, to book meeting rooms at any moment and to find the locations of colleagues in the building. This saves a lot of time and frustration, which boosts user happiness and productivity.
Tailoring your building to its users is beneficial for the needs of the users, but it has an impact on much more than that. This can be seen in the value and cost structure of a building. Martijn explains that “Over the lifetime of a building, the people and the processes inside have a value that is ten times higher than the operational costs of a building.” So, it is important that the processes inside the buildings run smoothly and that the people feel good. Smart buildings have a massive impact on its users. When the climate is optimal, productivity can go up 7 – 10 %. The more productive the people are, the better results they deliver. In other words; investing in health and comfort is essential for the growth of your company.
This being said, we can conclude that smart building is not about having the latest trendy gimmick. It is about making sure that the people and processes inside it can thrive!
[This article is based on a conversation with Martijn Oprel – Portfolio manager for Priva Building Automation EMEA]