The Smart Building – Why Now?

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As technology goes, we live in a world where smaller seems better. But imagine that your most valuable computing asset might also be your largest asset – the very building that houses your operations.

The recognition of today’s building as an extension of an organization’s IT infrastructure (i.e., as part of the computer systems that run the business) follows the increasing global adoption of the connected building.

What is the smart building? It is an operating system of sorts where sensors and controllable devices work together to mine and parse available data that is constantly being generated. That data is then used by employees, guests, patients, shoppers, or passengers within any building to optimize and individualize their experiences.

Once connected to all things digital, it is the building that transforms from a cost center, a simple fixed asset, to an asset of strategic and operational importance – which was not the case just 30 years ago. Let’s take a look at how the smart building has evolved over the last several decades and the driving forces behind its global adoption.

The Smart Building Evolution

Since the 1980's, the use of a building as an operational asset was limited to the installation of building management systems (BMS) that, through select protocols, helped organizations save energy by upgrading to controllable lighting or HVAC systems.

Today, building management technology has evolved to the point of changing an organization’s entire value stream as companies find new uses for the broad spectrum of data made available by connectivity.

Advancing Technology Drives Smart Building Adoption

Today’s millennials call for seamless and engaging experiences that only ubiquitous connectivity can provide. Attracting this demographic as employees or customers requires speaking their language and providing them with tools for making their lives digitally fluid.

As a result, global adoption of the smart building is happening now, thanks to several important advances in technology that have created the ideal soil for the growth of connected buildings, including:

  • The proliferation of mobile devices and related technologies, such as mobile-as-a-platform and mobile workforce systems
  • The availability of low-cost bandwidth that accommodates real-time transmission of tremendous amounts of data all around the world and into the cloud and back
  • The relative ease for providing technology services through low-cost cloud infrastructures and platforms
  • The new affordability and flexibility of cloud- and container-based app development through microservice design
  • The increased edge computing capabilities supported by powerful gateways paired with smaller, more powerful devices
  • The proliferation of low-cost, low-power sensors with long battery life
  • The wide adoption of Bluetooth® Low Energy technology for lightweight, low-power, and wireless “last-mile” connectivity

The role of technology advancements stimulated the ongoing adoption of the smart building all over the world, resulting in newly captured benefits not previously found in more traditional models.

Benefits of the Smart Building

When you consider the standard 3-30-300-dollar model of energy, space, and workforce costs per square foot is accurate but incomplete. What’s missing is the fact that when your building is connected, productivity is optimized. New business opportunities can be pursued, and you can potentially add another ten factors, realizing, as the example goes, some $3,000 per square feet in additional revenue generated simply from the connected building. Connecting has the potential to impact every one of those metrics.

Additionally, building and business managers have uncovered many other benefits resulting from the adoption of smart buildings, such as better managing their physical spaces, reducing operating costs, developing new products and services, and promoting a more productive workforce. Hospitals, retailers, airports, and hotels are also finding new ways to connect with their customers and improve the overall on-site experience.

If your organization has not yet made the transition to the smart building but looking for a place to get started, reach out to your local WESCO representative to learn about connected solutions partners like Acuity Brands.  

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