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The First Smart Building Assessment and Rating System Enters the Market

Neil Strother
Nov 24, 2020

Guidehouse Insights

A new rating system for smart buildings has entered the market, and that is a good thing. UL and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) have launched the SPIRE Smart Building Program, the first and only objective assessment and rating program for smart buildings, according to the two partner organizations.

Before SPIRE came along, smart building stakeholders—owners, facilities managers, tenants, and vendors—have had to navigate a fragmented landscape of performance metrics. The SPIRE standard should streamline the assessment process and move the market to a more unified view of what constitutes a smart building.

“Fully integrated systems are enabling advanced building automation that helps increase efficiency, optimize operations, and enhance overall occupant productivity and well-being,” says David Stehlin, CEO of TIA. “By assessing, validating, and rating key building elements that take into consideration the entirety of a smart building, SPIRE can simultaneously help improve asset performance, ROI, and tenant relations.”

The SPIRE standard features six key criteria, including power and energy, health and well-being, connectivity, life and property safety, cybersecurity, and sustainability. For now, to obtain a SPIRE rating, a facility owner must use a self-assessment tool at a cost of $1,499 per building or interior space. In the coming months, the partners intend to offer full onsite and virtual evaluations of building performance.

UL-Backed SPIRE Smart Building Program Focuses on Six Key Building Elements to Define the Scope of Smart Building Performance

UL-Backed SPIRE Smart Building Program Focuses on Six Key Building Elements to Define the Scope of Smart Building Performance

(Source: UL)

One of the first companies to embrace the new SPIRE rating system is Corning, which has tested the system on its optical communications headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Construction of that facility was completed in 2019.

Other Building Standards Already Populate the Market

SPIRE joins a growing list of building standards and codes that owners and facilities managers need to understand and incorporate into their strategic plans and ongoing operations. Some of the existing rating systems and standards for commercial buildings include the following:

  • ASHRAE: The gold standard for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and allied fields
  • LEED: The foremost green building standard that provides a framework for highly efficient, healthy, and cost-saving structures
  • International Code Council: A family of codes governing safety in the construction space
  • WELL: A performance-based system that measures, certifies, and monitors components of buildings that affect human health and well-being via air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind
  • WiredScore: A rating system aimed at empowering landlords to understand, improve, and promote their buildings’ digital infrastructure (Founded in New York in 2013, this emerging system is not yet widely adopted.)

While SPIRE’s entrance is a move in the right direction to spur growth in the smart buildings market, it joins a crowded field. Its backers will need to mount a marketing and educational campaign to differentiate it from the rest and help it find its niche. Given the heft of UL and TIA, the new rating system’s chances of survival appear solid. For more on the future of the smart or intelligent buildings market, see Guidehouse Insights’ recent report Intelligent Buildings Overview.