Introduction

Successful buildings are about people. They are tools that provide for human needs – shelter, security, a focal point for community, or more specialist outcomes such as wonderful acoustics or a sterile surgical environment.

What people want and need has always evolved over time, and our buildings too have adapted. Now, however, driven in part by advances in technology, our expectations are transforming faster than ever before. And our buildings need to respond – a challenge in an industry where the pace of change has always been slow and measured.

Although technology is both a significant driver of change, and a fundamental part of the solution, the changes we make as an industry need to start not from the technology, but from the people.

Technological success is determined by the outcomes technology delivers for people: high-tech space is not a goal in and of itself.

Ever present in our day-to-day, technology is the digital right hand most of us couldn’t live without. Devices formerly designed to perform simple labour saving tasks, or provide peripheral entertainment are now fundamental to the way we live, work and navigate the world around us.

Watches, phones, televisions, even cars… Our once gear-and-cog operated devices have digitized to become highly intelligent, everlearning smart machines. At an accelerating pace, technology is developing in new ways to deliver outcomes that enhance multiple aspects of our lives. Consider all of the extraordinary advancements that have occurred in the past decade alone. Now imagine that same level of technological development occurring in the decade to come. It’s an exhilarating thought, isn’t it?

The built environment will need to keep up. Our offices, enduring physical spaces built to last decades, often seem largely untouched by transformations elsewhere. But there is a growing awareness in the industry

Smart buildings are inspirational, sustainable, cost efficient and future proof spaces that put the users at the center. Technology creates the urgency for change, whilst simultaneously providing the means to adapt to it. That offices are not immune to the changing world around them and will need to evolve to remain relevant. To do so, a new concept has emerged in real estate: the ‘smart building’.

As the world has become more techcentric, landlords have been steadily integrating technology into their spaces to increase tenant productivity and drive operational efficiency. This movement has been slow to gain mass adoption and, until now, the smart building debate has been dominated by technologists and technology firms. However, landlords and occupiers have started to make their voices heard, and it is clear that the definitive perspective on what it means to implement and maintain a smart building must sit with those that build and use the space. For this reason, the core of what it means to be smart must be anchored in the functionalities and benefits afforded to the building’s users.

Executive summary

The future of the built environment is smart. Not implementing technology for technology’s sake, but the result of a conversation amongst tenants, owners and technologists focused on the outcomes that the users of buildings actually want.

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Why do we need smart buildings?

When deployed correctly, technology enables our seamless engagement with physically outstanding, human-centric spaces.

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