Report: Smart building conference 2016 forecasts intelligent buildings

Over a decade after John Gage from Sun Microsystems coined the phrase “The Network is the Computer,” the network’s evolution into the building was up for discussion at ISE’s fourth Smart Buildings Conference.

The importance of transitioning from “smart” to “intelligent” buildings was the resounding message of speakers including Erik Ubels and Mike Brooman at the conference, with delivering technology that can increase productivity, energy savings and provide diagnostics seen as the most valuable investment by clients. Big data, the Internet of Things, mobile and cloud technology were outlined as the driving forces of the future.

It was reported that the building automation and control systems (BACS) market is in healthy condition for integrators, worth approximately $22 billion and growing between 2.7-3% per annum. With a third of this accounting for products, and a quarter for services and maintenance, there is still significant opportunity for value added installations.

Looking to the future of corporate installations, it was identified that the upcoming Generation Z of “digital natives” have expectations for workplaces that implement intuitive, personalised technology with consideration for the environment. An “app for everything” and collaborative environments are high on their list of must-haves.

The future of the smart workplace

Product and innovations director at OVG, Erik Ubels, demonstrated the importance of energy efficient technology for businesses, outlining his work on the most sustainable building in the world – Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge, with a BREEAM score of 98.36%. The architecture of the company’s Amsterdam headquarters is 60% glass and completely wireless, powered by 350,000 solar panels and two deep-water bore holes for heating and cooling the building.

Ubels identified the possibilities Big Data offers integrators in making buildings and its employees as efficient as possible. From choosing a type of coffee to a locker, 28,000 sensors were implemented at Deloitte’s headquarters, allowing employees to control 21 devices from an app. He also stressed the value of predictive analysis provided from sensors feeding a data lake in the cloud in improving building and time management, for example, advising staff on the easiest route to work, or where to park.

Ubels said that he expects the modern workplace to be increasingly powered by the internet in the future, united by one piece of software, a platform that “helps employees throughout the day be smarter, more productive and sustainable.”

Building market outlook

Aside from bespoke new builds such as the Edge, what about implementing technology in older buildings? Senior manager of energy and smart technology at BSRIA, Jeremy Towler, highlighted the importance of retrofitting the buildings around us, rather than continually starting anew, as 80% of building stock was built in the last 25 years. With only a quarter of these buildings featuring an intelligent automation or control system, there is a significant market for integrators to improve the lifecycles of small and medium buildings with technology that can optimise office footprint and productivity.

Towler forecast that business models will start to adapt to smart buildings becoming part of a “smart grid” in “smart cities” where all devices communicate with each other. Reducing CO2 emissions with hybrid technology and fuel cells will also be high on the list of requests to integrators.

The Internet of Things, he added, will continue to enable systems to learn people’s behaviour to allow them to better work in the building. “Smart cities” should not come at a cost however, with security and the privacy of information of the utmost importance to clients.

Importance of a service orientated architecture

Continuing the theme of data lakes, Vanti CEO Mike Brooman said the ability to both consume data and give data back is one of the most important components of “smart cities.” He stated that the distinction between a “smart” and “intelligent” building was the ability to make people more productive, collaborative and communicate better.

Addressing room for change in the industry, he said that the way buildings are currently procured isn’t productive, and called for end users to be at the centre of planning by smart building stakeholders so they can be optimised for use. Brooman further outlined how the cost of making a change later into a project can be dramatic, with savings to be made by implementing a service orientated architecture from the start of a decision making process.

Going forward, a more collaborative work environment among stakeholders and involving integrators early in the process could have a significant positive impact on the industry.

Internet of Things dominates workplace strategy

Matthew Marson, consultant at Accenture, addressed how integral the Internet of Things is in offering smart lighting, HVAC analytics and occupancy feedback to profitable real estate strategy. He highlighted the importance of legacy building management systems involving hardware data collection through unified data architecture in optimising buildings for their purpose and dramatically decreasing energy use.

Reflecting on the future of corporate real estate, Tom Caroll, head of EMEA corporate research at Jones Lang Lasalle predicted that the technology and IoT transformation will accelerate in the near future, with increased mobile telephone and internet access. Digital transformation will impact every industry sector according to Caroll.

Caroll added that he expects the contingent workforce to more than double to 70-80% by 2030, instigated by more interactive and integration capabilities creating an “internet of work” culture. Echoing Marson and Brooman, he highlighted that he expects increased demand for integrators to deliver real-time data analytics to businesses.

With 70-80% of the global workforce reportedly disengaged, with huge potential side effects, real estate companies are shifting focus from discussing cost to user experience and implementing change with integrators. The effect of companies actively driving employee engagement with smart technology can be significant, potentially resulting in an increase of up to 516% in revenue.


Erik Ubels, products & innovation director at OVG
Jeremy Towler, senior manager of energy & smart technology at BSRIA
Matthew Marson, consultant connected buildings at Accenture
Graham Naylor-Smith, associate director - digital at Arup
Mike Brooman, CEO at Vanti
Tom Carroll, head of EMEA corporate research at Jones Lang Lasalle
Marco Koyne, CEO at Koyne-System-Elektronik
Matthias Natterer, sales manager building automation at Beckhoff Automation

Article Categories

Most Viewed