The technological foundations for smart

To deliver user functionalities reliably, robustly and consistently, a smart building needs a firm technological backbone.

The technological foundations of a smart building can be formed into six broad categories. Within these categories, the hardware, software, services and procedures required for success must be considered together.

Implementing the features and excelling in each category will ensure that a building is smart.

Digital connectivity
Secure, reliable and dedicated digital connectivity, available for users and systems is at the core of the smart building experience.

Building systems
The physical systems and software platforms that control the building (such as heating and lighting systems), and underpin many of the smart functionalities a building can deliver.

Landlord integration network
The network running through the building and connecting the building systems and software, to which the occupier can integrate (including the physical environment and cabling). This category includes considerations such as the robustness, security and extendability of the network, and the range of physical and communication protocol integration options.

Governance
The smart strategy of a building: the drivers and methodology behind the implementation of the building’s technology, the roadmap for future improvements, the success metrics and the feedback cycle in place that allows users to continuously drive value. Further to this, governance also refers to the way in which the owner has enabled users to engage with the building via fitout and integration guides.

Cybersecurity
The policies, practices and testing processes that ensure the building’s systems and data are secure and are following the right protocols and standards, recognizing that as buildings become more technologically advanced, the risks and consequences of a system failure (through error or deliberate action) increase significantly.

Data sharing
The essential data foundation of a building, split into two key components that cover the legal, ethical and practical aspects of data sharing:

  1. Keeping users’ personal information safe and secure whilst enabling a host of smart building features.
  2. Using the building’s utilization and performance data generated as a value-adding component of the portfolio the building sits in.

Several existing buildings and developments are already incorporating these smart technological foundations:

Digital Connectivity

Allianz Real Estate

The digital cornerstones of smart buildings are data security and data asset management. As each smart asset produces vast amounts of data, it raises the question: how to securely collect, analyze and make smart use of this data?

As mandatory underlying infrastructure, the digital connectivity of a building is one of the prerequisites to enable data production and management.

 

Smart and secure buildings require diversity and resiliency of high-level wired and wireless connectivity available to the building users, tenants, site operators and landlord. And securing the infrastructure is part of a wider effort to protect the building and its user from cyber attacks.

 

Data security is symbolic of the trust which must be established between a landlord and its tenants. The policies and procedures governing all aspects of data handling must be exemplary, going beyond mere compliance with regulations. The smart features of a building need to be robust and digitally secure thereby ensuring a safe data flow to the asset manager, guaranteeing the continuity of services to users while at the same time reinforcing the leasing decision of the tenants.

Data-driven asset management, on the other hand, is the adoption of a holistic approach to making decisions on the investment with the ultimate aim of increasing asset value. For example:

The more we understand the occupational patterns of our buildings, the better we can manage them in terms of optimizing energy efficiency and enhancing user experience through additional services.

As one of the world’s largest real estate investment managers, Allianz Real Estate’s number one priority with the adoption of a smart approach is to further maximize portfolio value – by meeting a ‘net-zero carbon’ target by 2050 as well as to providing superior user experience across assets. Given the size of the Allianz Real Estate portfolio, this is achievable through scalable, standardized industry practices and market transparency.

Building systems

Hines | Texas Tower, Houston

Within Hines, a specialist team, the Conceptual Construction Group, ensures that the building control systems in each development are cutting edge solutions tackling tomorrow’s built environment challenges. One recent example is Hines’ Texas Tower, a 47-story Class AA office building located in the heart of downtown Houston, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, and achieving triple platinum in LEED®, WELL, and WiredScore certifications.

Texas Tower connects API-centric mobile applications with core building systems to surface timely utility, utilization, and operational data.

It combines front and back-of-house systems for a seamless, trustworthy experience whether it’s air quality data, touchless access control, room booking, utility billing, or preventative maintenance. It’s all connected.

This data allows Hines to ensure that its buildings continue to evolve and incorporate the best in building technology to inform the next generation in development. Hines also combines smart asset level-data with portfolio-level intelligence to drive both their own investment performance and the industry forward.

Landlord integration network

KingSett Capital

Since 2018 KingSett has set a Smart Technology Vision across their Canadian Real-Estate Income Fund (CREIF) assets: to “Enhance a strong entrepreneurial and innovative culture through measurable and sustainable investment in technology, process and people, to drive premium risk weighted returns”.

An early focus of implementing this vision has been on ensuring strong base building networks (BBNs) exist within Kingsett’s buildings, and cyber security policies have been implemented to protect the systems that utilize this network.

During the pandemic, these networks have allowed for agile adoption of technology throughout their buildings. Implementation of air quality monitoring, hands free technology, occupancy monitoring, building control and enhanced security could be easily achieved utilizing this infrastructure. Because of the converged network, integration of these systems to drive further benefits is also now possible.

In an existing portfolio building systems are evolving constantly. Having the infrastructure and policy in place has helped KingSett to ensure that they are moving holistically toward a better experience for their tenants.

Governance

Skanska | Two Drydock, Boston

Skanska USA Commercial Development has invested significant efforts to create a common platform for project teams to develop future-proof assets with sustainable, innovative, and flexible building solutions focused on a superior tenant experience.

Success across a wide range of developments is underpinned by a clear and structured governance framework, with an ambitious and evolving vision and technology roadmap at company, region and individual asset level.

Two Drydock showcases Skanska’s global experience and breadth of knowledge in a vision that centers around optimizing tenant experience. For the first time, the building application was built into the vision from the onset, allowing Skanska to build an entire amenity stack around it.

The main priority was to enable a frictionless in-building experience: from dynamic parking all the way up to the tenant’s desk on their floor. A clearly articulated vision was fundamental to ensuring the right technology was implemented to enable that experience for tenants.

The roadmap at Two Drydock is underpinned by the right foundational technologies to enable future use cases. From a user functionality standpoint, this means deploying base building technology that can enable rapid deployment of features for tenants based on their requirements. The key here is enablement, as moving technology too far into the tenants’ space isn’t pragmatic, but providing the right foundational design gives them the capability to dial up the features they want.

This approach needs to be accompanied by close engagement with tenants to support them in making the most of the features the building offers. Tenant integration guides map the base-build technology to the user stories that can be enabled. This means translating a lot of the upfront technology into outcome-oriented user stories for tenants, so from day one, tenants can make informed decisions about what features they want to prioritize.

It is only possible to learn and improve if you measure. At Two Drydock, Skanska has implemented technology to capture data on elements such as the overall energy performance of the building, occupancy, and how the spaces within are being used.

Data is key, as it is used to benchmark at a national and local level, targeting performance levels well above local baselines. To inform programming at a building and national level, Skanska hasn’t forgotten the more traditional approach of using tenant surveys through the building app to elicit feedback from occupants to further improve the tenant experience.

Cybersecurity

The John Buck Company | 151 North Franklin, Chicago

151 North Franklin is a forward-looking 35-story office tower located in Chicago. The John Buck Company’s team developed 151 North Franklin to include a fully integrated Intelligent Building Platform (mobile & web-based app) as its occupant facing portal.

However, the benefits that an intelligent building like 151 North Franklin can give users are accompanied by significant risks, unless a clear cybersecurity plan is in place. Tenants now expect their landlords not only to ensure their personal safety but also the security of their data.

This is why the cyber DNA at 151 North Franklin was designed for resiliency, high-availability and contains enterprise level hardware, IoT collectors with heuristic systems analysis and DOD level security. These components integrate with the building’s cutting-edge technology stack to deliver premier and secure user experience to building occupants.

During the last 12 months, radical changes have been made in new and existing technologies. These advancements need to be continually monitored for risk, bandwidth, performance, and user experience. Partnering with a best-in-class technology services team who provides ongoing maintenance of the entire network implementation, along with constant support to all building vendors, contractors, and facility teams is an integral part of the cybersecurity strategy at 151 North Franklin.

Data sharing

British Land | 100 Liverpool Street, London

100 Liverpool Street has innovation at its core, from the design phase through to construction, asset management and community engagement. To deliver the building, British Land implemented a converged network which adheres to the highest connectivity standards, delivering a single digital ecosystem which is secure, robust, and scalable.

To realize the smart vision for the building, it was necessary to surface required data sets from disparate building systems in a common format, providing the ability to communicate dynamic and static data to and from cloud services, enabling analytics, machine learning and a scalable approach to Big Data.

In 2019, the Building Device Naming Standards (BDNS) initiative was started, with the aim of creating new open standards for data in relation to the naming and labeling of devices in smart buildings. Together with the Open Data Institute, Arup and Google, British Land advised on the design and operation of an open standards process, to ultimately standardize conventions and benefit everyone involved in smart buildings.

100 Liverpool Street has pioneered the practical application of this standard. It is one of the first projects to implement an open protocol naming convention during the design, construction and operational phase of a project.

What does a smart building deliver?

To provide an inspirational experience, and be sustainable, cost efficient and futureproof by design, a smart building must deliver a number of functionalities for its users.

Previous chapter

Creating the definition

To build a consensus on smart: what it means, how it can be valuable to owners and users, and (crucially) how to measure success when delivering a smart building – the WiredScore Smart Council was formed.

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