The art of smart buildings: combining smart technology and modern design


Photos c/o Axis Communications.

The term smart building may seem like a high-tech buzzword or fantasy, but just like smartphones and smart homes, smart buildings have become a modern reality. Integrating new technologies into building design is an art that involves thoughtful planning, the use of data and the specialized expertise of consulting engineers, to take smart building from the buzzword to the mainstream. .

What is a smart building today?

We know that what makes a building “smart” is constantly changing and can differ from organization to organization depending on the needs and use of the facility. Many areas can fall into the realm of “smart”, such as environment, energy management, facility and asset management, lifecycle management, security, etc. And a smart building can encompass many or all of these elements, while integrating them with automation.

Smart buildings are largely replacing older stand-alone analog systems that must be manually managed by networked digital systems. Smart buildings can also include building management systems (BMS), which are the platforms that connect the systems, allowing them to work in tandem and share information with each other to optimize building and visitor needs. inside.

Designing for the future of technology

The migration from analog systems to smarter digital systems has helped to change the technological landscape in all sectors, including construction. Building design has also evolved from manual paper plans to robust digital architecture and engineering design tools. So how are emerging technologies incorporated into smart building design during the planning and design phase? A few ideas come to mind: occupation and visitor management.


The Power of Building Occupancy Analytics

Properly identifying the use and occupancy of a building helps set the tone for the design of the structure. Building occupancy analysis has been all the rage for years and with the onset of the pandemic, their importance has increased. The ability to accurately track the number of people entering and leaving a facility, as well as the number of people currently there at any given time, provides the operator or building owner with data that can result in a range of very useful applications. .

More than for occupancy limits, analytics can be a powerful tool for optimization and efficiency. For example, identifying high traffic areas, as well as peak and low occupancy times of day, can be used with HVAC and electrical systems to schedule and automate lighting and heating, ensuring that that areas are temperature controlled and lit during peak occupancy hours, while saving energy by not heating, cooling or lighting spaces when not in use. Even construction operations such as cleaning schedules can be optimized using occupancy analysis. An area may only need cleaning services once a day when not in use or once an hour during busy periods.

Using occupancy analytics to engage systems only where, when, and how they are needed can optimize both building and staff efficiency and reduce wear and tear on critical systems.

Integrate visitor management into smart design

Visitor/tenant management technology is increasingly integrated into building design with a multitude of applications. We’ve all come across buildings that have push-button intercoms for entry. Today’s designs include low-touch entry systems and even contactless entry, where a person can initiate a call without ever having to press a button. From the initial call, a full two-way audio and video conversation can take place before allowing entry into a building.

Don’t overlook remote management, where someone doesn’t always need to be physically present in the building to monitor activity, engage with visitors, or respond to security events. For example, a QR code with a predefined expiration can be generated and sent to a visitor’s mobile phone. Once the visitor holds the code in front of an intercom, they are granted access to the facility which will automatically expire after a single use or at a set time. Combined with networked surveillance solutions, visitors and assets are protected while the building is monitored remotely.

Design a network

The Right Time to Hire Smart Security Technology Consultants

More and more organizations rely on consulting services and they can be essential for those without in-house technical expertise. Consulting engineers have specialized skills and resources that go beyond the fundamentals of building design (such as mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical). They also bring a wealth of skills and experience to help get the most out of smart building design, networked video and audio for security to supporting infrastructure, cybersecurity, remote management and much more.

When integrating smart technology into a new project, the earlier the conversation starts in the planning phase, the better. This gives consultants time to ask the right questions, assess needs, verify the right technologies, and determine what infrastructure is available or needed to support them. The dynamics of a project change depending on whether it is a new building being constructed or the renovation of an existing facility, where existing systems can be completely replaced or integrated with new technology. Therefore, good planning often requires working with multiple vendor channels to deliver a complete solution, so it’s always best to start as early in the project plan as possible.

Gavin Daly is an architect and director of engineering at Communications Axis. He brings technical expertise and personalized advice to internal and external clients. Gavin can be reached for consultation at [email protected].


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