Organizational and Individual Productivity and Wellness

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Smart Buildings: A Foundation for Safe, Healthy & Resilient Cities
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Supercluster Buildings
Authors Jiri Skopek
Contact Jiri Skopek

Blueprint PDF Smart Buildings: A Foundation for Safe, Healthy & Resilient Cities
  1. Smart Buildings for Smart Cities Introduction
  2. Benefit, Value and Return on Investment (ROI) Considerations
  3. Organizational and Individual Productivity and Wellness
  4. Next Generation Building Operations
  5. Cybersecurity and Privacy Risk Management
  6. Communications
  7. Interfacing with City Services and Utilities
  8. Mobility
  9. Cybersecurity and Privacy Risk Management Preparation Questionnaire and Handbook



This section explores the application of smart technologies in buildings to increase the ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY of the various private/public sector stakeholders: the owners & investor organizations, property and facility management organizations, government and corporate tenants (i.e. organizations who occupy or rent space) and individual occupants. The objective of this section is:

To identify smart building technologies that will improve organizational productivity

Definitions & KPIs — Problem Statement — The Role of Smart Buildings[edit]

Definitions & KPIs of organizational and workplace productivity[edit]

Organizational Productivity: The National Library of Medicine defines "organizational productivity" as:

The capacity of an organization, institution, or business to produce desired results with a minimum expenditure of energy, time, money, personnel, materiel[1].

Simply put, it is a measure of how effectively an organization uses its resources to achieve its goals.

Organizational productivity is generally measured using a basket of metrics, sometimes measured in different units. These will vary depending on the type of organization.

For a building owner’s organization, the basket of metrics could include revenue from rent; operational and energy costs per square foot; vacancy rates; resale value and insurance costs. For a tenant organization, the basket might include: the cost of space per employee; salaries vs. revenues generated per employee; cost of turnover, recruiting and retaining talent, facility management costs per square foot and so forth. It is by factoring all these metrics, that organizations determine their overall balance of costs and revenues.[2]

Workplace productivity is just one element of organizational productivity. It is defined as:

The amount and quality of work accomplished in a work environment (for example, an office, a hospital or a restaurant) and how efficiently workers complete tasks at their workplaces

Workplace productivity, like organizational productivity, is generally also measured using a basket of metrics, for example: the speed at which workers generate contracts and revenue; handle technical support calls for a tech firm; serve customers at a restaurant; produce a product at a factory; or come up with profitable innovations in addition to speed, the value of creative new ideas, problem resolution, and product designs.

Keeping workplace productivity high helps an organization to reduce its costs, satisfy its stakeholders, expand its operations, and stand out in a competitive marketplace. By understanding common causes of low worker efficiency, it becomes possible to modify the workplace to streamline business processes and foster higher morale in the individuals that make up the workforce.

Workplace Productivity contributes to Organizational Productivity[edit]

A plethora of studies have demonstrated that the physical environment - that is to say, the form and function of the workplace – is a key determinant of workplace productivity, which, in turn leads to overall organizational productivity.

Like all organisms that thrive in their optimal environment, humans function better and our brains operate at their best in clean oxygenated air and certain thermal conditions of temperature, humidity and air movement. Just like every other species, humans need certain light conditions to trigger alertness and sleep and acoustic conditions that enable us to process information. We need hydration and nutrition and space to move. And we need to relax the body and periodically rest the mind[3]. For each of these physical factors, there are prescribed ranges under which the human body works better, and the brain operates at its best.[4]

These physical environmental factors are observable and measurable, and their effect on brainpower output (productivity) has been well documented.[5]

Bad indoor air quality, thermal discomfort, noise and distractions, lack of daylight and poor visual ergonomics have a measurable negative effect on the productivity of individuals. For example, if we flush out carbon dioxide, and remove VOC pollutants from a workplace and in pump fresh air, – all else being equal, human brainpower improves measurably in terms of problem-solving, speed, and accuracy.[6]

That said, a common misunderstanding is that the physical workplace environment is the primary driver of employee engagement. Employee engagement results from the interaction of an employee’s response to both the culture and physical space, and the engagement level that results, though it can be predicted, is unique to the individual based on his/her ideal workplace characteristics. Engagement is an emotional response that is produced when people find their jobs meaningful and fulfilling, as well as when they feel they can do their best work. The emotional factors that are necessary for sustained employee engagement relate both to the work environment and to management style and the extent to which employees find, in their work: Meaning, Autonomy, personal Growth, recognition/Impact and human Connection — ‘MAGIC’ [7]

Comparing the effect of various workplace strategies on worker productivity[edit]

Figure 1. Comparison of the impact of workplace strategies on worker productivity

Numerous studies have been done on the sorts of measures that are typically expected to improve productivity. The table (Figure 1) adapted from “Improving Organizational Productivity with Building Automation Systems” study[8] by the National Research Council (NRC) and CABA (Continental Association of Building Automation) summarizes the results. The study consisted of a broad review of national and international statistics and targeted studies on productivity in the workplace. The study attempted to tabulate the findings into a coherent framework that compares the benefits of various workplace strategies on worker productivity. One of the strategies that was compared relates to building features and operations”. Using the traffic light nomenclature, the areas in green represent the greatest positive effect; those in pink the least effective. The results show that there are indeed other factors than the physical workplace that affect productivity, such as privacy, wellness programs, flexible work and financial incentives.

Problem Statement[edit]

According to the US Labor Department, organizational productivity, nation-wide, has stalled or declined in recent years despite the internet revolution, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics[9]. The problem is particularly acute in the service sector – that is to say, in industries whose productivity is not measured by the amount of physical goods produced but rather in terms of the value a customer receives.

The Problem Statement is the following:

In recent decades, organizational productivity in advanced economies has stalled.

There are several theories to explain the nation-wide stagnation in productivity including a reduction in research and investment and declining education standards among the larger population. Economists at the Bank of America have theorized that the decline may be partly due to the large cohort of retiring baby boomers who have decades of skills and experience, along with the dramatic influx of young, relatively inexperienced workers, who tend to change jobs often.[10]

As the next generations become the majority groups in the workplace, the values they bring to work are not appearing to change - that is, they identify with work as part of life, vs. the main aspect of success in life. And with this trend will come a need to redefine what productivity looks like in Smart Buildings of the future, especially since almost 30% of American workers either have a side “gig” or work remotely part of the time.

The role of smart building technology to improve organizational productivity[edit]

Notwithstanding that there are many diverse aspects to the problem, there is no denying that smart building technologies are having a significant influence on the type of measures that organizations are adopting to improve their organizational productivity. For example, smart building technologies are affecting:

  • the type of investments by Building Owners
  • the way Property and Facility Managers operate buildings
  • the strategies being employed by Government and Corporate Tenants to empower and accommodate their employees
  • the interaction between Occupants and the workplace


In office buildings, there are several private and public sector stakeholders whose decisions and behaviors will determine the level of productivity within their respective organizations. They include: i) Owners/Investors, ii) Property/Facility managers, iii) Public Sector or Commercial tenants; and iv) Occupants (i.e. individual occupants). Each stakeholder has a different perspective and expectations as well as different key performance indicators to measure their organization’s productivity. For example:

  • For Owner/Investors/ Asset Managers (including Municipalities). Much of the real estate is owned by financial institutions and they want high value but low risk. They are interested in offering a building environment that attracts and retains tenants, drives high rental revenue and reduces operational costs and retains or increases resale value, but they are reluctant to invest in as-of-yet unproven solutions. However, whether they are in the public or private sector, they want to be leaders and will often invest in buildings that push the envelope, such as the Deloitte Edge in Amsterdam, which is currently the smartest building. There, organizational productivity can be a measure of return on investment.
  • For Public Sector or Corporate organizations that are leasing or occupying buildings, the objective is to attract and retain the best talent and provide a frictionless, comfortable, healthy and productive working environment that will maximize the human capital (i.e. employee brainpower) by increasing work output. For some tenants, building data is now becoming part of the enterprise data management strategy. So, for example, the data building from sensors can be correlated with absenteeism, space occupancy and other HR data to provide indicators of productivity.
  • For Property or Facility Managers it is a measure of the ability to operate the building with ease, efficiency and effectiveness to the satisfaction of the owner and the occupants.
  • For individual tenants and occupants, it is a measure of the health, the potential for “flow” or highest-level work environment, comfort, professional amenities, work efficiency and human connection (professional and social) that the workplace offers.

How Smart Building Technologies Contribute to Organizational Productivity Goals[11][edit]

Improving Organizational Productivity — The Business Case for Smart Building Technology[edit]

When it comes to cost savings and performance, smart building technology offers some of the best returns on investment, with as little as a one or two-year payback, through energy savings from heating, cooling and lighting, and through operational efficiencies as well as security and tracking of building space utilization. For example, smart building sensors and controls can optimize the use of elevators, detect water leaks, and alert a waste hauler to pick up waste only when a bin is full. While the evidence of the savings is still largely kept by the leading smart building providers as a ‘market advantage”, the ACEEE’s Buildings program offers 1.5 years project payback evidence in their study “Using Smart Technology to Save Energy in Existing Buildings”[12]

Smart buildings are part of the IoT revolution and digital transformation[edit]

The convergence of building science, big data analytics and IT telecommunications to produce ‘smart buildings’ is not a new concept. It is part of the same IoT revolution that improves organizational productivity of cities by solving congestion problems, enables global supply chains to deliver ‘just-in-time,’ and allows airlines to achieve powerful efficiency gains across large fleets of commercial jets. It is also a part of the digital transformation that organizations are undergoing in their approach to conducting business.

In real estate, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) technology enables asset managers to operate entire portfolios of buildings from remote operations centers. There, they analyze ongoing data streams from sensors in the buildings, optimize each building’s use of energy, electricity and water, manage work orders, and dispatch mobile technicians to the buildings when needed. The technology to enable this competitive edge is already at hand, and the business case is compelling.

Increasingly the building data are becoming one of the inputs of the data management.

Smart Capabilities that contribute to organizational productivity for building stakeholders[edit]

TABLE A outlines how a SMART building can help to achieve the Organizational Productivity goals for each stakeholder organization and the SMART CAPABILITIES these may require.

Stakeholder Organization Organizational Productivity GOALS Smart building CAPABILITIES to achieve the Organizational Productivity Goals
Owner/Investors Produce savings and strong ROI from energy, operations and maintenance SMART capabilities (criteria):
  • Smart energy efficiency and water efficiency features and controls
  • Smart energy management including monitoring, fault detection, analytics and diagnostics and continuous commissioning
  • Smart operations & maintenance including janitorial services, waste management
  • Centralized property management
Attract and retain tenants with services and amenities
  • Similar to the Government or Corporate Tenant Productivity criteria (see below)
Future-proof the building by ensuring flexibility and resilience
  • Flexible telecommunications
  • Renewable energy, microgrid
  • Disaster mitigation features against flooding, leaks, fire etc.
Property/Facility Managers Produce savings and ROI to the satisfaction of the building owner from: energy, operations and maintenance SMART capabilities (criteria):
  • Similar to the Owner & Investor SMART criteria for savings and ROI
Provide a user-friendly interface with smart building technology in order to operate the building with ease, effectiveness, and efficiency
  • Adequate training
  • Performance monitoring and diagnostics
  • Automated work orders
Offer Health, comfort and wellness, thereby achieving occupant satisfaction and minimizing complaints
  • IAQ, thermal comfort, and visual comfort features and performance
  • Sanitation
Provides ease of communication with occupants
  • Occupant experience app to provide occupant feedback in real-time
Public Sector or Corporate Tenants Maximize human capital, by attracting and retaining top talent SMART capabilities (criteria):
  • Similar to Employee/occupants criteria for health, comfort and wellness, and human connection (see below)
Produce operational savings
  • Similar to Owner & Investor and Property Manager ROI criteria
Optimize space efficiency
  • Space utilization
Drive productivity
  • Similar to Corporate employees (aka occupants) health, comfort and wellness criteria and Work Efficiency
Ensure business continuity
  • Similar to Owner & Investor Future-proofing criteria
Produce operational savings
  • Similar to Owner & Investor and Property Manager ROI criteria [D3]
Individual employees/occupants Work efficiency (e.g. timesaving) SMART capabilities (criteria):
  • Commuting, parking, wayfinding
  • Reserving rooms
  • Security features
Health, comfort and wellness
  • IAQ, thermal comfort, and visual comfort features and performance
  • Sanitation
Human connection (professional and social) SMART capabilities (criteria):
  • Communications platform with other occupants
TABLE A – How Smart buildings help to achieve organizational productivity for each stakeholder organization

Smart Technology Requirements to Achieve the Desired Capabilities[edit]

A SMART building needs the right technology and functionality to meet the Smart Building goals listed in Table A These can be broadly grouped in two areas:

  1. Operational Efficiency & ROI for the building owner and property managers. The technology typically consists of an analytical engine with a building that receives information, analyzes it and automatically adjusts controls through a building automation system (BAS) -i.e. a computer-based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building's mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. They are summarized in Tables B below.
  2. Organizational productivity for the public sector and corporate tenants and occupants, and a positive human experience of the occupants in the workplace. These are increasing the subject of development of Digital Assistants, which are all the “buzz” in Proptech. They are summarized in Tables C below.

System Operational Efficiencies Examples
Smart energy management including monitoring, fault detection, analytics and diagnostics, and continuous commissioning Smart Energy Analytics and Diagnostics aggregate and analyze building data to generate actionable insights that will save energy and cut costs. The programs address energy consumption and cost in three specific ways:
  1. Energy management through systematic tracking and optimization of building energy consumption and performance over time, while changing the behavior of building occupants with visual dashboards and benchmarks.
  2. Fault detection and diagnosis to enable timely and targeted interventions in cases of faulty or under-performing building equipment.
  3. Alarm management to prioritize the many notifications generated by existing building systems and point engineers to the most impactful issues and automated work orders

Sky Foundry

Other smart energy features
  • Occupancy sensors to switch off HVAC and lights in unoccupied zones
  • Smart Elevators
Water efficiency and management features and controls/Smart bathroom
  • Artificial intelligence systems identify the source of the water leaks and how to fix the problem
  • Smart bathrooms can monitor leaks, usage, and environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and odor, and user satisfaction with maintenance

WINT Water Intelligence

  • Sensors that communicate when bins need to be emptied

VS Relay

Asset Monitoring and Critical Asset tracking
  • Tracking of physical assets – including critical assets – either by scanning barcode labels attached to the assets or by using tags using GPS, BLE or RFID which broadcast their location.


TABLE B – Smart Technologies that produce Operational Efficiencies

System WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY for the government and corporate tenants, and HUMAN EXPERIENCE of the occupants Examples
Space utilization/people count
  • Space utilization monitoring can help to reduce the real estate footprint of an organization by helping it to determine how much space it needs to support its workforce.
  • It is also useful for:
    • Controlling lighting and HVAC
    • Booking meeting rooms
    • Scheduling cleaning
    • Enhancing building security, (e.g. by providing a headcount during emergency)

It typically uses IR Utilization or Imagining Sensors

Utilization IQ
Asure Smart Office

Wayfinding or presence detection in open-plan
  • Wayfinding apps save time when people are looking for someone to collaborate with or a place to work.
  • They can also show which conference rooms are available at any given time.

Locator Pro and Elite

Conference room scheduling/ resource booking
  • Online software for booking and scheduling for coworking spaces reduce administration and increase usage
  • Concierge services


Temp/lighting/IAQ “smart” environmental control
  • Smart environmental controls give occupants a sense that they are in control of their environment, which is emotionally empowering.
  • Monitoring CO2 levels is one way to measure the need for ventilation within a space. Demand-controlled ventilation reduces HVAC energy consumption by 20% by using actual space utilization data from sensors to adjust ventilation according to real-time demand.
  • Companies are experimenting with the use of technology to gauge employee mood and adjust the office lighting accordingly

ThoughtWire-@Work app

Digital office management
  • Smart buildings use technology to collect data and automate processes so they can better adapt to management and occupants' needs.
  • By providing data on how employees are using the workspace and their experience and satisfaction with the environmental conditions, smart buildings and IoT make it possible for CRE teams to remove the roadblocks to productivity.

ThoughtWire-@Work app
Managed by Q

  • For Real Estate and Facilities Managers, sensors in the office furniture capture utilization data into the organization’s space management system, another tool for improving occupancy planning.
  • Workplace apps can even ‘remember’ an individual’s ergonomic preferences and prompt them to sit or stand throughout the day based on the selected health settings

Herman Miller LiveOS

Engagement/Employee Interaction and Collaboration
  • Centralized mobile solutions with role-based or personalized layers to connect employees and visitors to the information, people and resources they need.

Microsoft teams
Google Hangouts

Shared transportation, Smart parking IoT has generated tremendous flexibility in transportation options from better usability of public transport, to bike sharing, ride sharing and smart parking * Ridesharing Apps offer on-demand hailing of vehicles. Some have the advantage of volume, while others offer better prices and superior technology.
  • Smart parking Apps provides a range of services to property managers People searching for parking spots can find a parking space, register their car, and pay all through Smart Parking Apps.

Innovative Urban
Transportation Apps for 2019
The best ridesharing apps for 2019
Smart Parking

TABLE C – Smart Technologies that produce Workplace Productivity for Public Sector and Corporate tenants and occupants

To deliver the capabilities effectively, the building should meet certain standards, discussed in other sections of this supercluster for:

  1. Communications and Connectivity
  2. Interface and Interoperability with Municipal Services
  3. Safety
  4. Transportation


Smart systems are a core design element of most new buildings. However, aging buildings are also having to consider upgrades to maintain their value against newer, smarter ones. For an existing building, the best time to do a smart building upgrade maybe during a major renovation. Even if a major renovation is not planned, signs of congestion in the building’s communication pathways, additional tenant communication needs or building system failures may indicate a pressing need to upgrade the building’s systems. A survey showed that the leading drivers of smart building installations are energy efficiency and the desire to reduce costs. The technologies that are the most in-demand at this time are closed-circuit television and security (78 percent), HVAC (74 percent), fire systems (69 percent) and building energy management systems (67 percent).[14] Turning an existing building into a smart building is more challenging than designing a new smart building from scratch. It may require modifying an existing BMS or BAS, as well as constructing an IT eco-system with a common backbone, which will interconnect all the sensors to a master control hub and drive critical information to a common database. Fortunately, many systems such as lighting, HVAC and building security now feature ‘open’ communications and data exchange protocols. These make it easier to integrate systems from different vendors and suppliers and leverage existing infrastructure. There is now also integration software that can interface with and gather data from systems that have different communications protocols. ‘Middleware,’ sometimes described as a ‘software glue,’ mediates between an application program and a network.

Engage a neutral automation consultant[edit]

The plethora of choices in the market with respect to smart building systems and configurations can be confusing. Many firms design smart building systems using their proprietary equipment and programming. However, sometimes these new installations fail to integrate other existing building systems into the smart building network. As a result, the building will miss out on the beneficial synergies of an integrated network. Moreover, the building may be stuck with a system that can only be serviced by the company that installed it. Before speaking to any vendors, it is wise to engage a neutral automation consultant, who will provide unbiased advice, and take responsibility for the design, sizing, installation, and commissioning of all smart components. This person should be familiar with the principles outlined in ASHRAE’s Guideline 13: Specifying Building Automation Systems,[15] which describes typical configurations and offers tips on creating a system that will meet specific objectives. A neutral consultant/coordinator will design an installation based on an open protocol that works with a wide range of systems and does not lock the building into a single service provider. Working with the IT department and the facility management team, the coordinator will help to develop a master plan, and will suggest product options that will be suitable for the type and size of building, the budget, any proposed upcoming projects, specific building requirements and tenant needs.

Things to consider when designing a smart building[edit]

When designing a smart building system, tenant expectations must be considered. This is especially important in a multi-tenant building, where each tenant may have different needs and require different systems. For example, some tenants may require a high level of security to screen visitors and deliveries, whereas others may feel that excessive screening drives away clients. If tenant expectations aren’t well understood and considered, this can lead to tenant dissatisfaction. The best approach is to have face-to-face meetings to work through the floor plans with each tenant, discussing the specific features (such as security) to be implemented in each area, and identifying which specific technologies will work best. Understanding current and future needs is also important to ensure that the infrastructure is ‘right-sized,’ and that groundwork is provided for future expansion, especially with respect to the communications backbone at the site and enterprise levels. Another important area of consideration, when upgrading a building is the current state of the building’s existing systems, such as the age and performance of the current server, warranty issues, serviceability and so forth. These factors will help to determine whether to integrate older controls into a new communications system by simply adding gateways and interfaces, upgrade the old controls, or replace the controls and software entirely. Finally, the human component must be factored in. For example, does the existing facility management team have the time and skill level needed to operate the system? Will ongoing services be self- performed or delivered by a service provider? And finally, how well does the solution predict the emotional and engagement responses of the employees who will need to function in the space? Realizing that different tenants have different kinds of businesses and skills of employees, it’s important to realize that solutions cannot be “one size fits all”. An overarching goal of a smart building is to capture data about building systems. However, data only has value to the extent that it can be used by those operating the building. Micrometric details about every circuit are useless unless they translate into useful knowledge and action. If building operators have difficulty navigating and understanding the controls and interfaces, interpreting the data, or troubleshooting, then this can erode user confidence. Elements of smart systems may end up being overridden. This undermines a smart building’s capabilities and negates promised efficiencies. To avoid this, the solutions providers must deliver a user-friendly system. That said, smart building operators, for their part, must have a general working knowledge of how all the building systems share information and how to work across the disciplines.

Designing a smart building system should be a collaborative effort[edit]

Designing and implementing a smart building system should be a collaborative effort between the site team, consultants, contractors, engineers and vendors. It should include the predicted needs of stakeholders in the short and long run, be guided by a neutral, third-party advisor, and the implementation should be carefully monitored by a technical project manager.

Needs assessment[edit]

The process begins with a need assessment. This consists of analyzing tenant requirements, researching energy and building usage trends, and looking ahead, to lay the groundwork for future expansion. Assess all the existing systems. Identify existing components that can be migrated or leveraged on a smart building network, and places where new components will need to be added. Develop a concept of the basic skeleton of the smart building network and a preliminary cost estimate.


Once the project and costs have been scoped, the actual design should specify all existing building systems that need to be migrated, as well as all new systems. All components should be aligned with the physical space to determine appropriate locations for new infrastructure. The output of the design phase should include costs, installation timelines and priorities, keeping in mind that smart building network deployments need not be completed all at once, but can be phased in over a period of months or years.


Implementation includes installation, configuration and commissioning. The result should be a fully functional smart building network with documentation, which other building systems can leverage. A skilled technical project manager will ensure that the activities associated with the implementation are completed properly.

Ongoing communications between property management and tenant organizations[edit]

Once a system is commissioned and up and running, communications between tenant organizations and owner should be ongoing. This is important for many reasons, including the security of the building and data. For example, if the tenant fails to update the database when employees leave the firm, then there could be many people who continue to have access privileges even though they are no longer authorized.
It’s important to keep in mind that even smart buildings need people to run them and act in response to fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) data. The good news is that the user interfaces are becoming ever more user-friendly, enabling facility managers to control and monitor their building, alerting them of malfunctioning equipment, and flagging where maintenance is needed.

The role of the tenant’s IT team[edit]

In industrial applications, the Internet of Things (IoT) is commonly found deeply embedded in sensor-laden machinery and assembly lines as well as the facility’s infrastructure of lighting, HVAC systems, thermostats, and security. These enterprise applications serve production purposes, for example, by improving manufacturing efficiencies, and collecting data to drive artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.
One of the greatest benefits of the industrial IoT is how it can dramatically improve operating efficiencies. If a machine goes down, for example, connected sensors can automatically pinpoint where the issue is occurring and trigger a service request. Perhaps more importantly, the industrial IoT can also help a manufacturer predict when a machine will likely breakdown or enter a dangerous operating condition before it ever happens[16].
But what about offices?
At the building level, the focus of building operators is to manage plant operations, HVAC systems and maintenance teams. There is also a new layer of smart devices such as occupancy detection and other sensors, which link to occupants’ devices. In a smart office building, enterprise management provides connections between the building systems and the occupants — for example, allowing them to book spaces, or activate lighting and air conditioning in conference rooms only when they will be occupied. With this, occupants can be better served by integrating their enterprise operations with the physical environment. However, to extract maximum value from the data and controls of a smart building’s networked devices and the occupants’ devices, there needs to be a relationship between the building’s and the occupants’ IT teams.
Traditionally, the role of an occupants’ IT team has been to focus primarily on business software and communications, often with very few links to the building environment. However, with smart buildings, there is now an opportunity to link corporate networks with building networks, as part of a broader IT strategy.
The data that smart buildings generate can be extremely valuable to the occupant organizations. For example, intelligent, wireless, sensor-laden LED lighting networks have a software back-end that can generate data about occupancy patterns and usage of meeting rooms. Understanding how the occupants are using the facility offers useful insights for safety, health, environmental and energy management.
When striving to provide occupants with greater control of their workplace environment, the occupants’ IT team needs to be involved in decisions regarding access to the data that these smart building systems can generate. For example:
  • What kind of data will the system(s) generate?
  • Who will control the data and manage the integration of that data across systems?
  • Who will have access to the data?
  • Who can benefit from access to the data? How can this benefit be shared across business units and/or departments?
  • What standards will be supported for data and network integration?
  • Who will have long-term responsibility for IoT within the enterprise, including the infrastructure, network security, and standards, while ensuring maximum business value?
  • What will be the system of record — an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or a building management system (BMS)?
  • What KPIs will be tracked?
To work out these issues, clearly there needs to be a relationship between the occupants’ IT team and the building IT team, to integrate the relevant building data into the enterprise resource planning software or corporate social responsibility tracking software.

Smart Buildings for Smart Cities[17][edit]

Organizational Productivity isn’t just for owners, property managers and occupants. It also applies to cities. For municipal governments, the smart city approach offers a wide range of other opportunities for savings and efficiencies.

Smart cities offer a wide range of benefits, from cost savings to livability, safety and security, resilience, and sustainability. London and Singapore lead in terms of their budget, vision, leadership, financial incentives, support programs and a people-centric approach. Municipal governments around the world must also come to grips with the fact that cities are major contributors to climate change—and are highly vulnerable to its disastrous effects.

Besides, cities are now competing for talented individuals and employers that grow the local economy based on the designation of “Smart Cities”. Cities like Philadelphia, Columbus Ohio, and San Francisco actively use their advanced connectivity as well as “Smart Buildings” to lure talent from smaller, less progressive communities. (Smart Cities Conference, Washington DC, October 2019). Smart buildings are a key contributor to the returns that include jobs, tax revenue, and higher quality of life. While the benefits and Return on Investment (ROI) of smart buildings are well documented for tenants, building owners and operators, similar information for cities is limited at best. The Blueprint Chapter 1 – “Value, Benefit and ROI Considerations” provides such understanding.

Smart cities are gaining their momentum, fueled by communication advances and innovations such as G5, autonomous vehicles, drones and blockchain. In an urban ecosystem that integrates digital technology, knowledge, and assets, the goal is to improve services and efficiency, fuel the economy and deliver a better quality of life to citizens.

The current focus of smart cities is on social aspects – linking people to services[edit]

The prevailing theory is that “smart city strategies start with people, not technology”[18]. Applications that strengthen the social fabric are what attract young talent and innovators, and result in increased linkages between the physical, digital, and human spheres (Figure 2). Establishing digital connections between people and the built environment affects where people live and work. Most smart cities focus on mobility, but those that have the greatest number of applications, such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Singapore, Shenzhen, and Seoul—have branched out into multiple additional domains. Extending the focus beyond mobility gets a city closer to creating a virtuous circle of benefits such as telemedicine, smart street lighting and networks of cameras that monitor streets for suspicious behavior, can prevent crime or terrorist attacks before these take place.

Figure 2. Establishing links within the city fabric [Source: Author]
As the public and private sectors, academia and civil society race to produce and avail themselves of smart technology, there’s more to smart cities than just a plethora of applications linking citizens to services.
To derive the fullest benefits, another category of digital connection is critical: between buildings and the various elements of a city’s infrastructure.
Smart metering of energy and water, smart parking, automated garbage pick-up and waste-stream sorting, and emergency response services are just some examples of digital connections between buildings and infrastructure.

The role of smart buildings in a smart city[edit]

Smart cities have implications for real estate. For one thing, they attract a high-end demographic of “information innovators” – companies and people who demand smart workplaces and homes. In today’s full-employment economy, employers need to focus more than ever on differentiating their real estate, not just their wages.[19] Smart buildings in a smart city will be critical for attracting occupiers seeking to retain this highly educated talent.

There are other advantages of linking buildings to public and/or private smart city services and infrastructure. For example, there are operational savings from being able to detect water leaks or alert a waste hauler to pick up only when a bin is full. Smart meters allow energy usage to be monitored remotely, which leads to cost savings over manual meter reading. Some utilities even give their customers reduced rates if they allow the utility to make momentary, unobtrusive adjustments in electricity loads during peak hours by remotely powering down their customers’ less critical systems for short periods of time during periods of heavy demand on the grid.

Utilities may be the biggest winners when it comes to linking smart buildings with smart infrastructure and using the predictive analytics of smart grids to match capacity to demand. As photovoltaics and battery storage becomes commonplace, smart buildings may become the virtual power plants providing both the utility and necessary resilience against power cuts or brownouts.[20]

The McKinley Global Institute analysis indicates that digital tools and applications could help on average to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10–15 percent and lower water consumption by 20–30 percent. Smart technologies that link with buildings make it possible to streamline services such as waste collection and reduce the amount of solid waste per capita by 15–20 percent.[21]

Linking to smart buildings also benefits a city’s emergency management and resiliency by guiding emergency services along the best route, and by deploying resources more efficiently during emergencies or evacuations.

City planners and developers can also create net-zero communities supported by more efficient infrastructure. For example, offices use most of their energy by day; residences are just the opposite. Thus, a single district heating or cooling plant that serves both commercial and residential buildings may not need to be much larger than a plant serving just one or the other. It is also sometimes possible to share energy — for example, using waste heat from data centers. Communities in Europe such as Vauban, Germany have used district heating/cooling successfully for decades.

Smart cities need public and private sector collaboration[edit]

Buildings and cities reflect today’s rapid technological and entrepreneurial progress. It is interesting to note, however, that linking smart buildings to smart city systems, has – up to now - taken back seat compared to areas such as transportation & mobility, security and street lighting.

Integrating smart buildings and smart city technology is the next frontier, for buildings constitute the basic fabric of a city. However, this requires cooperation by public and private sectors and utilities. This is only possible by demonstrating the benefits so that all may work together on a coherent strategy that will meet each one’s goals.

In the end, buildings and Smart Cities can provide a modern, functional and highly productive life for citizens and employees that matters most. And as times rapidly continue to change, having a municipal plan that can be resilient and flex in response to future challenges such as climate change and potential public health concerns is essential.
Productivity is not a static concept, and smart buildings that are designed with the future in mind will contribute most to our collective future.

Smart cities and buildings in the time of the pandemic. [edit]

With the growing threat of infectious disease, smart buildings will play an increasingly important role. They will be able to help to detect and control the spread of infectious disease, facilitate the remote operation of the buildings in a lockdown and interact with the grid. With the trend towards self-isolation by the population at home, the role of connectivity for communication and entertainment is paramount. As many buildings such as offices, restaurants, theaters and cinemas, sport facilities are closed, the question single-use function design is raised. The need for distancing in shops also requires a re-examination of the way products are being delivered and distributed. In the long run, this may lead to changes in the way we live and work productively.

The immediate use of smart technology is in the detection and control of the spread of infectious disease. The use of temperature measurement equipment that integrates intelligent video, AI, and thermal imaging is becoming a part of epidemic prevention and control solutions. Installation of intelligent sensing equipment for epidemic prevention inspection at key locations reduces manual investment, infection risks and related costs. Information technologies have played a pivotal role in China’s response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, such as proactive surveillance for rapid detection and diagnosis of infection, immediate isolation, rigorous contact tracing, quarantine of the close contacts, and exceptionally high awareness and acceptance of the measures among the general public[22].

Fever is the most common symptom of novel coronavirus infection and high-performance infrared thermal imaging could allow for rapid body temperature measurement of persons entering the building. High-performance infrared thermal cameras have been installed at the entrances of some major train stations and airports in China and elsewhere. The devices capture thermal images of people flowing in real-time and rapidly detect persons with an abnormal temperature. Tech companies are also proposing to use AI to establish the identity of passengers in the measurement area, allowing those suspected of infection to be immediately separated. These solutions have privacy implications. Employee monitoring technologies often receive significant pushback. For example, the Daily Telegraph had to withdraw desk monitoring sensors for space utilization tracking, while more recently in February 2020 Barclays was forced to scrap its program to monitor the amount of time staff spent at desks.

Building types such as hospitals have used white light disinfection LED technology, deployed washroom sensors to track whether staff are washing their hands for a sufficient length of time or reprogramed BMSs to manage indoor humidity levels to minimize the survival rate of viruses.

The policy of self-isolation at homes can particularly affect residents in single and multi-residential buildings. Apart from the work at home, education, “entertainment” and telemedicine internet feed, with the aid of app the residents could submit daily health status reports to a community worker designated for a section of the building or a district who would respond with a message, a phone call, or even a home visit accordingly. In the Guangzhou city app’s ‘I Need’ feature helped the residents isolated in their homes for suspected infection to obtain daily necessities such as rice, meat, vegetables and medications. Such services could be incorporated as a part of the property management offering. 

The “open building” approach to the design of buildings was conceived in the 60s’ to enable buildings to be re-purposed during their lifetime, in line with social or technological change. Open building design seeks to co-ordinate inputs from different professions, users of the building, and other interests associated with the locality[23]. Where there may be lesser demand for offices, this may lead to re-adaptation of these buildings to multi-residential accommodation. Similarly, sports facilities or even shopping centers could be converted to hospitals. A related concept to open buildings is the coworking flex space. It may well be possible that the coronavirus may bring new coworking or multiple-use opportunities not only to offices but also to other building types. Booking and monitoring of the flex space will provide numerous opportunities for smart solutions. 

Coronavirus is also bringing innovations to deliveries. Drones can now deliver medicine in Ireland while ensuring "zero human-contact” to vulnerable people locked in their homes[24]. Alphabet's Wing subsidiary has seen a "dramatic" increase in customers using their food and medicine delivery service, with more than 1,000 deliveries completed in only two weeks during which people faced lockdowns nationwide[25]. As Steve Jobs once said: “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.”

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