A building becomes intelligent when its HVAC, lighting, power, low voltage, and other systems speak the same language, share meaningful information, and work together to enhance the building’s performance, add functionality and achieve performance, wellness, and engagement goals. This gives building owners the ability to install apps, such as Comfy, which provides the occupant control over zone lighting and temperature from their phones. Apps like Rifiniti also generate statistics about the usage of the rooms in a building.
Real estate professionals, developers, facilities management, and human resource groups generally champion smart buildings. Real estate professionals responsible for a portfolio appreciate the insight they gain by understanding their assets. Developers and planners are interested in space utilization solutions and are excited about solutions that will allow them to further monetize their leasable space. Facility managers like reduced downtime due to preventative maintenance programs and more efficient utility usage. Finally, human resource groups value smart buildings due to apps that make employees more effective, comfortable, and healthy. Today’s apps can guide employees to available desks in an open plan office, synchronize the color and intensity of lights with the sun to promote better sleep when employees go home, and support sustainability goals.
Since intelligent buildings are effectively a new set of technologies, special considerations must be made. We always advise including the expensive systems, such as smart HVAC and smart lighting, in early design stages. Once the smart infrastructure is in place, building owners can always go back and add additional functionality even if they do not plan to implement a host of applications on day one. These systems are often the first to be “value engineered” out or fight uphill budget battles, so it is critical to include them in the base design and defend their long-term value. Finally, it is important to note that intelligent buildings don’t always have to cost more. By eliminating overlap in controls, cabling, and networking, efficiencies can be gained to offset the additional cost of sensors and smart devices.
Intelligent Buildings Consulting (IBC) is an emerging discipline at Newcomb & Boyd. The people working on IBC projects are largely embedded into existing disciplines such as Special Technologies, Commissioning, and Energy & Sustainability Services. Specialists in electrical, lighting, HVAC and plumbing are frequently consulted.