Smart Building: what is it?

Smart Building: what is it?

Smart Building, or Intelligent Building, is one of the main opportunities for the Internet of Things. With Smart Cities and Smart Industries (connected industries), Smart Building is the largest domain in IOT projects in 2018 (according to IOT Analytics).

What does Smart Building mean?

BMS (Building Management Systems) technologies and solutions have been around for some time. The concept of Smart Building goes much further. We could define Smart Building as:

A building that uses technology and processes to become more efficient operationally, protect the health and safety of occupants, improve employee productivity and reduce its impact on the environment.

It is therefore a more global view, which integrates not only the management of the technical dimensions of a building, but which in fact covers all the actors intervening or occupying the building, in order to improve the user experience, optimize management and reduce costs.

There are many areas in a building that can benefit from a Smart approach, powered by the Internet of Things including:

Comfort in the building

Many parameters contribute to the notion of comfort. Among these, we can mention:

  • The quality of the air: too hot, too cold. Too dry, too wet. CO2 too high. Presence of a high concentration of pollen. Studies have shown the direct influence of air quality on office well-being, absenteeism, and performance. The Sick Building Syndrome (SBM) covers a set of pathologies related to the quality of indoor air. In addition, a direct relationship between the concentration and the indoor CO2 level has been demonstrated.
  • Noise, promiscuity, especially related to new work organisation (shared offices, open space).

Breakdowns & interventions in the building

Most building equipment has been designed for a service life of 20 to 30 years. While a building will be operated much longer. The management of this equipment is therefore critical, generating many costs. Faults and interventions are all events that can be avoided or minimized by the introduction of connected sensors / actuators.
The goal of smart building is to move to preventive maintenance, even predictive, and thus to extend the life cycle of a building’s installations. A way also to introduce the circular economy in the building, fighting against planned obsolescence, and keeping the facilities running thanks to pro-active maintenance.

Energy Management of the building

The building consumes 40% of the energy produced in the world, according to a report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Electricity, heating, air conditioning, domestic hot water, … A study by the European Commission showed that we could save 23% of the energy needed, by moving to Smart Building concepts.

The Smart Building Concept


Concretely, smart building can be seen as a 3-dimensional problem. On the one hand there are the building components: Electricity, Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Access Control, Fire Alarm, Lifts, Cameras …

Then, there is a first layer of integration of these systems allowing monitoring, on-site and remote management of interventions, optimization …

Finally, the third dimension is integration with building users, for example through the management of meeting rooms, work areas, restaurants, nurseries, etc.

The Internet of Things in the Smart Building ...

Eventually, a building will be equipped with many sensors / actuators that will make active a set of currently passive elements. Window opening sensor, indoor air quality measurement, presence at a desk or in a meeting room, real-time energy consumption … All these sensors will generate a set of data (Big Data) that will be processed , analyzed by algorithms (machine learning, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance) and interfaced to applications used by the occupants.

In the end, Smart Building will have to make it more operationally effective, more comfortable and healthy for these occupants, all while improving the productivity of its occupants.