What makes a building a “smart building”?

Whenever I hear the phrase “smart building,” I always love the sci-fi edge of it, as if perhaps the implication is that a facility can be sentient. And with all the sensors and level of detailed data available, with all the potential for a facility to closely respond to the needs of occupants, perhaps it won’t be long before my fanciful notions are further rewarded. For a sober definition of what “smart” actually means when applied to a building, consider the Smart Buildings Institute’s definition, cited in Rita Tatums’s article in Building Operating Management.

The Smart Buildings Institute certifies a building as “smart” when it:

  1. Provides actionable information on the performance of building systems and facilities.
  2. Proactively monitors and detects errors or deficiencies in building systems.
  3. Integrates systems to an enterprise business level for real-time reporting and management utilization of operations, energy, and occupant comfort.
  4. Incorporates the tools, technologies, resources, and practices to contribute to energy conservation and environmental sustainability.

The implications of the capabilities of smart buildings to achieve true high-performance are thrilling. Rather than spending time checking systems manually and individually, systems can report on their health to facility managers. Facility managers are then empowered to be more strategic in their operations and more in-tune with their facilities. What’s your take on smart buildings? Could there be a downside?

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