Smartphones, smart cars, smartwatches—we’re living in an age of intelligent technology that would’ve seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago. Now, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), sustainability efforts, and artificial intelligence (AI), entire buildings are getting “smarter” to optimize performance, efficiency, and comfort for the people inside.
Here are some leading examples of how the smartest buildings are starting to realize their own potential, from making the security and building maintenance processes easier, improving sustainability, reducing energy, and so much more.
The new Watson IoT Headquarters in Munich, Germany is basically the Internet of Things at scale. This building uses cognitive computing, meaning the building and its environment are continually learning and improving to meet its tenants’ needs. What’s more, the IoT knows who is seated where and adjusts the ambient lighting and temperature to their individual preferences.
Touted as “The Greenest Commercial Building in the World,” the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington is all about sustainability. It produces as much energy as it uses, collects and treats rainwater onsite, and promotes a healthy work environment for its occupants. In fact, the building was designed with a 250-year lifespan, which is more than six times the average lifespan for buildings.
This smart office building was constructed to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. It’s an uber-connected workspace that begins with directing you to the quickest elevator to adjusting the height of your work desk to recognizing the number of people in a meeting room and adjusting the temperature accordingly.
The Crystal building in London is much more than a traditional office building. It houses office space for Siemens’s global engineering, but it also functions as an exhibition and event space, all of which are highly sustainable. It has received the highest BREEAM and LEED certificates as it is energy and CO2 efficient and the architectural design allows for natural resources (such as rainwater, natural sunlight, etc.) to be used instead of fossil fuels. The Crystal is highly connected as it has over 3,500 data points to guarantee all systems function properly at all times. The multi-functional nature of the building allows it to serve various purposes and maximizes its energy consumption.
Intel’s SRR3 building in Bengaluru, India is an example of system synchronicity aimed at delivering employee satisfaction. The new building features a machine learning algorithm that controls the air conditioning and ventilation systems, improving employee comfort and productivity and drastically reducing complaints. Using a smart interface, building managers monitor energy usage and can switch between four sources—diesel generator, solar, fuel cells and the grid—at the touch of a button. The system prioritizes renewable sources while avoiding power outages that sometimes affect the grid.
To enhance and encourage “hotdesking”—a system that allows multiple employees to share a single desk—Intel’s smart system allocates employees a mobile cubicle by integrating data from occupancy sensors installed in each workstation and triangulating it with the cubicle reservation system.
Deloitte’s new headquarters, The Edge, in Amsterdam has been called “the smartest office space ever constructed.” The building and its employees rely on a smartphone app that checks workers’ schedules, allocates conveniently located parking spaces, and assigns workspace based on each person’s itinerary and preferences. Behind the scenes, tens of thousands of sensors gather data, which feeds back into building processes and services in real-time, assessing, for example, which areas need cleaning, and which can be shut down to save energy.