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.

The functionalities improve the in-building experience for users. Rooted in user stories which map how people interact with the building, each functionality, when delivered to its fullest extent, will delight one or more user groups, making the interaction seamless and enjoyable, overcoming a challenge or inconvenience, and improving the experience in each part of the building.

Buildings across the globe are successfully incorporating these smart building functionalities to achieve outcomes that users want and will benefit from.

The following highlights a selection of noteworthy examples:
Individual and collaborative productivity

Individual and collaborative productivity

Creating spaces that enable people to be at their most efficient and effective using features such as: automatic visitor check-in, automatic meeting room booking, desk booking and occupancy detection.
Health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing

Creating safer and healthier working environments via features such as: air quality monitoring, lighting / temperature / ventilation adjustment, cleanliness and maintenance reporting systems.
Community and services

Community and services

Placing community, services and information into the hands of users, creating a sense of community by providing building users with the ability to explore and access external services (like local events and amenities), deliveries, accessibility options and providing a feedback loop to collect and action user suggestions.
Sustainability

Sustainability

Improving and reporting on the sustainability of the building via energy/water usage tracking, temperature/lighting optimization, waste management, and by providing charging points for electric vehicles.
Maintenance and optimization

Maintenance and optimization

Optimizing the building’s space and systems through more immediate and detailed performance data allowing focused maintenance regimes and more finely tuned system performance.
Security

Security

Providing a safer place to work and innovate with more advanced systems such as: building security, access control, fire alarms and compliance management.
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.

The functionalities improve the in-building experience for users. Rooted in user stories which map how people interact with the building, each functionality, when delivered to its fullest extent, will delight one or more user groups, making the interaction seamless and enjoyable, overcoming a challenge or inconvenience, and improving the experience in each part of the building.

Buildings across the globe are successfully incorporating these smart building functionalities to achieve outcomes that users want and will benefit from.

The following highlights a selection of noteworthy examples:

Health and wellbeing

EDGE | EDGE London Bridge, London

Health and wellbeing has been at the center of EDGE’s approach to offices for many years, with technology being a key enabler. The pandemic has accelerated the focus on health in the industry, often with a focus on preventing disease, and EDGE sees the potential to address the topic holistically, asking:

How can someone be healthier and happier when they leave the office than when they arrived?

To achieve this, EDGE leverages technology in various ways. Firstly, ensuring that the building seamlessly meets the needs of the users, using data from various sensors in real time for building systems to automatically adjust settings, ensuring optimum comfort levels at all times. So, the building adapts to the life within and not the other way around. With the sister company EDGE Next, EDGE puts data in the hands of the building users to help them navigate their workday. For example, warning users when there are too many people in a room to have safe ventilation levels or advising which desks are available and best suit their comfort needs. EDGE also leverages daily occupancy data to ensure effective cleaning protocols. Furthermore, EDGE Next provides key insights to real estate management to improve performance, so that every building can become even healthier over time.

EDGE’s new flagship development in London, EDGE London Bridge, will feature the latest smart technologies, not only to ensure it offers the healthiest office environment, but also to support the company’s sustainability goals and help EDGE to deliver the most sustainable office tower in London.

Productivity

Great Portland Estates | Hickman, London

For the last five years GPE has been developing a smart building capability and have now delivered three smart buildings with more on the way. At Hickman, located in London’s Whitechapel, GPE has delivered their smartest building to date.

Hickman has been designed to meet GPE’s vision to continually innovate to enhance occupiers’ workplace experience. The smart building links a digital twin with Sesame, GPE’s workplace app, to allow occupiers the chance to make the most of every day.

The digital twin helps GPE to monitor occupiers’ movements through sensors in every light fitting and combines this with energy consumption and real time feedback on every piece of equipment in the building.

This allows GPE to meet the sustainability target to become a net zero carbon business by 2030, as well as enabling a variety of productivity benefits for users.

These benefits start for workers before they leave home: Sesame allows them to check the air quality in the office, book their desk and to check how busy their tube platform is to avoid busy times. On their journey they can read over 150 titles and magazines provided free with the app and when they arrive sensors allow
staff hands free access into the building. Once at their desk they have control over lighting and temperature at their workstation.

Sustainability

M&G Real Estate & Nuveen Real Estate | 40 Leadenhall, London

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria are central considerations in the development of 40 Leadenhall in the City of London and the decision making of M&G and Nuveen Real Estate in the delivery of the project. These factors are also of great importance to potential occupiers, their employees and to wider society. The building delivers 900,000 sq ft of commercial office, amenities and retail space and needs to achieve this in the most sustainable means possible.

In a building of this scale, it is not practical to rely on human intervention alone. This was recognized at an early stage in considering building controls and operations, and there was a desire to optimize the wealth of data that is delivered through the Building Management Systems (BMS) and Energy Management Systems to allow the effective management
of power, lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation.

In order to enable exemplary sustainable performance, the ability to provide complex and thorough analytics will be a key criteria in the identification and procurement of a Smart Platform that will be used by the Building & Facilities Management team to manage and control the building systems. Coupled with the addition of occupancy and environmental sensors to supplement the BMS and the ability to link to a Digital Twin of the building, smart technologies will mean that 40 Leadenhall will be an exemplar project in terms of sustainability.

Security

PGIM Real Estate, SJP Properties and Norges Bank Investment Management | 11 Times Square, New York

At 11 Times Square, PGIM Real Estate and its joint venture partners SJP Properties and Norges Bank Investment Management have deployed a number of measures to ensure security of the building, while still ensuring smooth operations between building management and tenants. The access control system, CCTV and visitor management system are all provided via BluB0x. When a new tenant moves in, PGIM Real Estate receives a list of tenant employees with their primary office floor to then issue access cards for their entry via the turnstiles at the elevator banks in the main lobby.

PGIM Real Estate’s card access system is integrated with the elevator Destination Dispatch system so when a tenant presents their access card at the turnstile, they will receive their elevator designation on the turnstile screen. If they intend to go to another floor, they simply present their access card at the kiosk in the elevator lobby and select the floor they wish to go to for a new elevator designation.

Further modifications were made to future-proof the infrastructure and enable innovation. For example, the card readers at the turnstiles were replaced with QR code readers. These allow tenants to hold their access card a further distance from the turnstile, avoiding having their access card actually touch the turnstile. In conjunction with the new readers, new tops were required for the turnstiles to accommodate the new reader configuration.

QR code readers also allow tenants to use their phones to activate the turnstile from a certain distance, without the use of their access card. The same functionality can be provided on guest passes.

To support a safe return to work post-COVID, a new module has been added called ‘Fit to Work’. Every night at midnight, tenant access cards are deactivated. Tenant employees are asked to log into BluSky (the website for BluB0x) via the web or an app every day. From there they can access ‘Fit to Work’ where they are asked one question: ‘Do you certify that, for today, you meet all conditions established by your employer and the facility in which you work?’. Once they answer affirmatively, their access card is reactivated within seconds, allowing them entry through the building turnstiles.

Further to this, employers are required to have a plan for their employees to facilitate social distancing, limiting occupancy, limiting large group gatherings, and detailing measures taken by the employer to enable contact tracing.

Maintenance and optimization

Art-Invest Real Estate | Hammerbrooklyn DigitalCampus, Hamburg

All modern buildings boast a variety of technical building equipment, and the way in which these devices function is key to user satisfaction and operational costs. However, across the industry, the data latent in these systems frequently remains untapped, as systems are often not combined in a way that allows visualization and systematic data analysis.

It’s here that smart buildings make a big difference: Art-Invest Real Estate employs artificial intelligence to digitally upgrade the Building Management Systems (BMS) across their portfolio to enable fully automated analysis (or evaluation), revealing areas for potential.

By combining system data in one single place, Art-Invest Real Estate deploys algorithms to improve building performance, energy consumption and day-to-day use, as the generated data streamlines operational necessities via predictive maintenance.

However, Art-Invest Real Estate is also exploring solutions beyond the BMS, including at Hammerbrooklyn.DigitalCampus, where smart elevator solutions provide predictive maintenance, allowing the building’s elevators to operate at levels
of optimal performance. Combining smart technologies drives operational savings, to reduce energy consumption and increase rates of tenant satisfaction. Additionally, by enriching the building’s digital twin with maintenance and optimization data, levels of transparency are increased by making the building’s data more readily available.

Community and services

Gecina | Gecina HQ, Paris

Gecina’s headquarters has been imagined and designed as a sustainable living space, a reflection of changing work practices, but also as proof of the company’s commitment to society and the environment. This required attention to the layout, to the allocation of shared space for collaboration, a more advanced service approach, and the integration of technology to improve the quality of user experience, CSR performance and efficiency within the building.

In terms of technology, the foundation is the highest possible standard of connectivity for users, equipment and associated services. This enables more fluid collaboration, and simpler deployment of new services, such as thermal control or blinds, access to the building via a smartphone, digital concierge services, parcel boxes, or fleet car sharing made available to all employees. Each employee can access all services via smartphone and, in 2021, Gecina’s mobile app will aggregate not only the building’s service offering, but also the shared services available across the wider Gecina network.

The app will also allow a direct exchange between Gecina and the user community, facilitating the process of continuously expanding and improving the user experience through the production and further analysis of data.

Through the use of IOT technologies, such as remote fluid reading and metering sensors, Gecina will achieve greater efficiency in the operational management of the building, allowing higher levels of user comfort whilst striving for ambitious CSR commitments.

Looking to the future, the focus is on the Building Operating System and the digital twin that should be implemented at the Gecina headquarters in 2021.

Defining a smart building.

Until now, the real estate industry has struggled to agree on how to define a smart building. Whilst most buildings now involve at least one aspect of smart technology, there exists no consensus on what makes a building smart.

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