• Intelligent Building Technologies
  • Intelligent Buildings
  • Building Energy Management

Flexibility Is Key for Intelligent Building Technologies

Dec 11, 2018

Smart Building 3

The potential for growth and acceptance of intelligent building technologies hinges on the ability of solutions to meet the diverse needs of the various market verticals that technology vendors serve. Examples of these market segments include retail, healthcare, office, hospitality and restaurants, education, government, and other building types. 

It is easy to assume that one building type is like the others. Almost all building types have HVAC, lighting, and other building systems that can be largely the same across multiple building types of a similar size. However, each building type may have dramatically different operational characteristics and requirements that make the assumption of similarity invalid. Healthcare buildings require 24/7 uptime with high requirements for patient safety and comfort. Education buildings have both indoor and outdoor requirements that generally include a campus of buildings versus a single building. Retail buildings have long operating hours with needs that may include location services. Office buildings generally have more limited hours and require flexible space management. These differences in operational characteristics produce many challenges for running an efficient building that still meets the end use needs. 

A Future of Flexibility

For many years, the focus of building technologies has been to manage energy consumption while maintaining an indoor environment that was acceptable to tenants and occupants, a reasonable approach if the building is a cost center (where costs are meant to be managed). However, this type of thinking is becoming quickly outdated as building owners and operators realize their buildings can enable a broad set of energy and business improvements that serve multiple strategies and enterprise-level objectives. Much of this shift in thinking is due to improvements and innovations in intelligent building systems enabled by the ability to collect and analyze data. The flexibility to integrate data from even outside the building systems has allowed building technology vendors and their customers to think of ways that the building can become part of the value proposition of each building’s end use case. 

The following are a few examples of how this scenario is evolving. Healthcare buildings are using intelligent building systems to enable individualized control of the environmental characteristics of a patient’s room, which has been shown to assist in the patient healing process. Retail building operators are devising sensor-based strategies that allow them to collect data on customer shopping habits. Once again, these are brief and generalized examples of intelligent building technologies being used to enhance the strategic value of the building itself to implement business goals and market differentiators. In recent market reports, such as those for healthcare and retail building market verticals, Navigant Research dives deeper into these and other areas where intelligent building technologies are changing the competitive landscape for businesses of all types. There may not be a single solution that fits all the needs of every building type, but the flexibility of intelligent building technologies allows them to be accessible by all building types with use cases that are still being devised.