What is a smart building?

Smart buildings are buildings that communicate. They have subsystems – such as heating and cooling, energy, lighting, plumbing, access control, alarm and security – that interact with one another through a network, and can also be controlled remotely. These buildings are equipped with digital sensors that gather energy consumption and other data and interact with software to help building managers optimize heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security and other services.


The ultimate objectives of smart building technology are energy efficiency, reducing pollution and waste, saving money, and sustainability.

How do smart buildings work?

Smart buildings work by fitting sensors onto a building’s core systems - such as power, lighting, security, water meters, heating and cooling, alarms and security systems. These interactive sensors, when connected to a network allow a building manager to monitor and control the environment through them by acting as eyes and ears. These systems are governed by software that enables an operator to monitor the situation in real time, also remotely, as well as automate many of these processes.


Examples of what smart building technology can do include:

  • Monitor where, how and when occupants are present
  • Automatically adjust and synchronize lighting, temperature and parking based on usage
  • Improve indoor air quality through advanced climate controls
  • Anticipate any maintenance problems and troubleshoot
  • Generate data about the energy use of the building’s core systems, allowing management to upgrade and optimize.

The result is better performance that leads to reduced costs and improved energy efficiency, eliminating wasteful use of energy and resources.

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Energy Efficiency for Public Buildings

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What are the benefits of a smart building?

Running the air conditioning or heating in an empty room wastes both energy and  money. Since the smart building’s digital sensors collect data on the building’s use and operation and make this data easily available to occupants and building managers, they gain new levels of visibility and actionable information.

This leads to a targeted use of  lighting and heating, better air quality, and increased physical security; resulting in benefits such as efficiency, sustainability, safety, productivity, and savings, both energetically and financially. Smart buildings thus save money through optimized operation and increased efficiency in equipment, energy usage, maintenance, and power consumption. Smart buildings offer many benefits. Here are a few:

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  • Reduced energy consumption creates smaller carbon footprint and contributes to net-zero emissions reduction
  • Saving on energy costs by using energy only where it is needed
  • Improved maintenance troubleshooting from continuous data monitoring
  • More comfort and wellbeing for occupants through automatic temperature control
  • Maximize the effectiveness of a security installation through smart locks, alarms and monitors that interact with other systems 

What is the Internet of Things and how does it affect a smart building?

The Internet of Things (IoT) makes a smart building even smarter. A definition of what is the Internet of Things generally involves objects and systems like lighting, heating, and security that “talk” to each other through the internet and can also be controlled remotely. Using motion-sensitive sensors to turn off the lights when a person leaves the room is nothing new. In a smart building fully enabled with the Internet of Things, data generated across all of the building’s elevators, fire alarms, occupancy, energy use and temperature, for example, are centralized into a single “control panel” that enables an operator to monitor the situation in real time, also remotely, as well as automate many of these processes when desired. Continuous monitoring in an IoT-enabled building can also reduce maintenance and need for repairs by bringing any issues to the attention of the building manager before they turn into problems.
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