Corporate real estate is going through rapid change because the nature of work is changing and because smart building technologies today enable more intuitive, agile workspaces and put occupants in control.
But what is a smart building? Basically, it is all about improving performance. The performance of the building, the people using it, and the services delivered to them.
Firstly, the performance of the building includes how the building is “behaving” – its indoor climate (temperature, humidity, air quality), energy usage, and space occupancy (desks, conference rooms, concentration rooms, etc.). These factors can be measured easily, and the ROI can be calculated. An interesting example of measuring and continuously improving the performance of a building can be seen with AXA Belgium. The new headquarters of this leading insurance company are designed in a way that is user-friendly and easily accessible and uses space efficiently. With an IoT system, AXA monitors the use of desks and conference rooms in considerable detail. The installed sensors detect which desks and conference rooms are occupied at what times. In addition, “comfort sensors” are measuring variables such as temperature, ambient humidity and CO2 levels making working as comfortable as possible.
Secondly, the performance of the people covers how effectively they can work, how empowered they are compared to what they could achieve in an environment that is not optimized to meet their needs (temperature, light etc.). Those factors are more difficult to measure, but they have a very high impact on the business results. 48% of respondents to a Cushman & Wakefield survey said that their workspace does not support them to work productively. With sensor data from the IoT made available in real-time on mobile tools, today’s office workers get a better workplace experience and can make the best use of their workday. Again, Axa is an interesting example enabling the “New Way of Working”.
The third performance indicator are the services. How can cleaning routines be improved? How can workplace-related services be steered dynamically and optimized? The AZMM hospital in Belgium is a good example of activity-based facility management: a modern complex environment where care is provided around the clock. This requires highly serviced buildings with no margin for error in meeting their occupants’ needs. To achieve this, it is essential that facility teams have easy access to up-to-date information on the go. Facilities and cleaning staff need to know which tasks to perform, when and where. A smart building platform gives the facility manager a better insight into usage patterns, the cleaning team is more motivated and satisfied and the cleaning services are optimally aligned with the actual use of the building.
This is what we call a smart building.