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Smart Buildings Take Hold: 8 Ways Smart Tech Is Transforming Commercial Buildings

“Smart buildings can also be defined as connected buildings,” says Marco Macagnano, PhD, Senior Manager, Lead: Smart Real Estate with Deloitte Consulting. “The biggest difference with current smart buildings is that tech is the enabler of three primary pillars: sustainability and carbon neutrality, the well-being of users, and user-centered design,” says Jan-Hein Lakeman, Executive Managing Director of Edge Technologies and OVG Real Estate USA. Lakeman cautions that smart systems alone can’t solve for big-picture, “Holistic objectives” such as sustainability. FINDING SMART PROJECTS. If smart buildings are so great, who’s building them? What goes into them, and how are they performing? The watchwords for specifying smart are “Convenience and control,” says Herbert Els, SVP, Building Technology Systems with WSP USA. The firm’s own smart showplace, a new innovation center in Boulder, Colo., employs heat mapping for access control and occupancy monitoring; power consumption is monitored at the business unit level. As Stantec’s Baker points out, “Smart buildings are one of the major foundations in the smart city movement now under way.” Studies such as McKinsey Global Institute’s “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future,” published last June, describe smart buildings and smart cities operating on the same IoT-based technology backbone. Smart building growth may also unlock new value in prefabricated and modular building approaches, with companies like Katerra installing smart tech in the manufacturing environment for plug-and-play application in the field. Smart tech and robotics also undergird the new multistory warehouses and factories in planning, according to experts at JLL. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City, new concepts for vertical manufacturing buildings by WXY Studio show how technologies for buildings, transportation, industrial processes, and smart cities are converging in unique and valuable ways.

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