• Smart Buildings
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Technology Standards
  • Building Automation Systems

Successful Buildings Strategize for Smart Solutions

May 11, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

Commercial buildings are getting smarter. Yes, the pace might seem slow and indiscernible, but there is a growing body of evidence supporting the shift toward structures featuring more intelligent systems, healthier occupant spaces, and more eco-friendly operations.

The Proof Is in the Projects

A recently announced partnership serves as proof. Johnson Controls and Pelion, the Internet of Things device service provider, have agreed to join hands in an effort to fast-track “innovation in connectivity, security, and intelligence at the edge,” according to a release. “This partnership combines Johnson Controls’ deep domain expertise in healthy buildings with Pelion’s device and edge management capabilities to usher in an era of truly smart, updateable facilities at cloud scale,” said Mike Ellis, chief customer and digital officer for Johnson Controls.

In addition to the Johnson Controls-Pelion tie-up, standards for interoperability are a key aspect that will help usher in the era of truly smart buildings. Without standards, important data and devices will be unable to communicate efficiently and systems within buildings will remain in silos. There is an upside on this front, too, as efforts are underway to create standards for devices and data in smart buildings. At least two groups are working on open source projects:

  • The Brick Consortium is promoting its Brick Schema, a framework for naming, tagging, and describing devices, data, and locations in a building. The schema also aims to understand and capture all the diverse relationships among the entities in a building that are present in a building management system (BMS).
  • Project Haystack is a separate effort that aims to streamline and standardize data models and web services. The goal is to unlock value from smart devices in commercial buildings and homes.

It is difficult to pick a winner between these two standardization efforts, and perhaps both will survive and thrive or eventually they could merge. Or even a new group will form. However things turn out, the fact that both are in play is a good sign for market stakeholders.

Growing Adoption of Smart Building Solutions

Beyond smart building tech standards, other forces are propelling adoption of smarter building solutions—and not just in the usual regions such as the US and Europe. In the Philippines, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred facility owners and managers to incorporate smarter technology to keep operating while under challenging conditions.

The most successful buildings have been those that have made smart solutions an indispensable part of their strategy, according to Inventi, a property technology provider. One of Inventi’s clients was a leading private school that has two sprawling campuses. Because the school had installed the vendor’s software beforehand, when the lockdown took place, the school’s facilities staff was able to continue monitoring and maintaining areas of the campuses in spite of having to operate with only a skeleton crew. 

There are other examples of growing smart building adoption from other vendors. For instance, Siemens, Schneider Electric, and Honeywell report growing interest in their solutions, particularly as owners and facilities managers plan for reopening in the coming weeks and months. The pace of adoption might not seem fast compared with buzzy high tech categories in the smart home realm, but momentum is building in the commercial space. Keep in mind that the journey has just begun. For a deeper dive into smarter building technology trends, see the Guidehouse Insights' Connected Lighting Catalyzes Intelligent Building Transformation report for details on how lighting can be a transformative step in creating a smarter building.