— Smart Building: The architecture of the future is here

08.11.2021 | 4 min read

What is a smart building? 

Technology is revolutionizing disciplines such as architecture and design, making it possible to construct smart buildings that can vastly improve the quality of life both at home and at work. Smart buildings or intelligent buildings are structures that are characterized by their technological innovation; that is, their infrastructure and systems deliver integrated and automated processes that help to increase energy efficiency, safety, usability, and accessibility. Smart buildings are about putting technology to work for people through the construction of homes, offices, warehouses, etc. Various systems serve a purpose, although the ultimate goal is nothing more than to increase the comfort, convenience and safety of the building’s inhabitants or users.

Smart buildings are a key component in the architecture of the future, but for a building to be considered smart, it must meet certain requirements:

1. Environmental friendly

A smart building must be sustainable from head to toe – from the materials that are used to build it to the systems utilized to control the consumption of supplies (such as electricity).

On an architectural level, a smart building must be designed to meet the functional needs of its users. It must have systems that can control and regulate the consumption of available natural resources such as sunlight and water in order to achieve energy efficiency. It is estimated that buildings account for about 40% of total energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions (according to International Energy Agency) However, with an energy management system, energy consumption can be five times lower and in the case of carbon footprint, up to four times lower. Similarly, some buildings generate their energy (usually from solar panels) and can contribute surplus electricity to the national grid.

How does one know if a smart building is truly green?

There are certifications, such as the BREEAM, where 3rd party entities assess, evaluate and certify a building’s sustainability. Another way to know if an architectural space is sustainable is through LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, which recognizes buildings constructed in accordance to eco-efficiency and sustainability standards.

2. Integrated control systems

To be smart, a building needs a brain center with which all systems are integrated and this platform is responsible for making everything work. It’s a kind of switchboard that connects all the building’s programs and devices and, in turn, connects them with the activities going on throughout the structure. Using this system, the building can perform multiple functions such as recognize people, adjust temperature systems to create a more pleasant atmosphere, turn off lights when there is no activity in a room, or send elevators to the ground floor when many people are waiting. This technology behind a building is known as building automation. Although it is more commonly identified with home and consumer automation, it is also designed for large buildings and multi-facility environments.

Source: Thing Technologies GmbH

Thus, building automation is a technology that for monitoring the general operations of the building and controlling aspects such as energy balance, temperature or humidity, security alerts, access systems, elevators, etc. Thanks to it, buildings become smarter, safer, more sustainable, and comfortable.

3. Safety

Technology also allows us to equip buildings with innovative security systems that protect the people who live or work in them. This allows for tighter access control, which reduces the chances of theft or other types of problems. Buildings are also equipped with emergency detection systems, which improves detection, response, and evacuation times. It should be noted, however, that the more a building relies on technology to maintain its security, the more vulnerable it is. As a result, it is important to technologically shield smart building systems to prevent intentional attacks or malfunctions caused by accidents.

4. Flexibility

From an architectural standpoint, the building must serve a specific purpose, but also, it must allow for quick and easy remodeling to meet other types of needs in the future. A smart building is also a flexible building. This is achieved by modular development in both installations and structure while, of course, not neglecting the aesthetics and comfort of the space.

What do smart office buildings look like?

Imagine that you arrive at work every day and don’t have to enter with a keycard or code, but rather, just your face as a biometrics recognition system opens the doors as you pass by. Once you are in your desk seat, a sensor reminds you when to take breaks and how to correct your posture to sit properly. And then, when you’ve left the room, when no activity is recorded, the lights and all other equipment automatically turn off to save energy.

While this scene may seem somewhat like science fiction, we are getting closer and closer to experiencing this type of situation. Smart office buildings are starting to become a reality in many cities. According to research by Mordor, the Smart Building market was valued at $82.55 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $229.10 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of over 18.50% during the forecast period (2021-2026). Growing energy concerns and increasing government initiatives on smart infrastructure projects continue to support to this market growth.

And a positive by-product of offices equipped with advanced technology is that they generate a better work environment – increasing worker productivity, improving the well-being of employees, and making day-to-day activities much more enjoyable. These are small details that, on the face of it, may go unnoticed but can make a big difference on multiple business fronts.

Buildings Internet of Things (BIoT) allows us to focus on all elements in a building that can be linked to a network (the Internet) for the purpose of improving operating efficiencies, lowering energy consumption, improving occupant interactions, meeting sustainability targets, and effectively maximizing financial results.

It’s a topic we love to talk about at e-shelter security as it represents a key component of our smart building solutions. You have probably heard about the cube in Berlin: “cube berlin is the sculptural centerpiece of one of the most prominent squares in Berlin. At this location, the building promotes life and activity for the city, and provides a true workplace of the future for its tenants – excelling in sustainability, resilience and opportunities for knowledge sharing. It will be the first office built specifically to support 21st century workplace trends with multi-tenant occupancy, cross-organizational communication, activity-based workstations, shared facilities, and dynamic office layouts.” (Source)

e-shelter security and its partner, Thing Technologies GmbH, contributed to make of this project, one of the smartest buildings in Europe:

Galileo – Cube: The most modern house in the world from Hans Otto Film GbR


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Our Smart Building solutions are based on the integration and analysis platform of Thing-it. We integrate various building systems such as intelligent lighting control, building automation, elevator control and access control systems. We also integrate IT applications such as Office365, CAFM and service management systems to create an integrated system architecture and end-to-end processes.

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