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Five Barriers to Smart Building Roll-outs

By Sam Carson
26th March 2019

How can this data be manipulated to increase cost savings and drive tenant comfort?

The idea of Smart Buildings is not new. Buildings have become increasingly ‘techified’ in order to achieve control and visibility over large complex buildings through gathering it’s data. The conversation recently changed to discussing what to do with all the data that is being gathered by sensors and gateways. How can this data be manipulated to increase cost savings and drive tenant comfort? The unification of building efficiency and tenant comfort has been a technological challenge and one that continues to evolve. But the benefits are clear, the opportunity for control over your assets whilst maintaining tenant retention and boosting brand image is finally here. So why aren’t enough people taking advantage of this opportunity? Read on for the five barriers we’ve identified to smart building roll-outs, and how to overcome them.


1. Security

The press around the Internet of Things (IoT) has rightly raised the issue of data and information security. Without proper governance in place which can manage and oversee security, smart buildings may become vulnerable. However, these security issues are easily managed, and a Smart Building strategy can control vulnerabilities associated with IoT programmes. Another security issue that can be understood and managed through a Smart Building strategy is how data is shared. Smart Building data will be valuable to suppliers and other parties, so having governance in place to best manage how the data is shared is an important part of keeping information security intact and protecting its value. Smart Building data may not have the GDPR implications we think they do, and a Smart Building strategy can make sure this is managed properly.


Modern glass silhouettes of a business skyscraper.
Modern glass silhouettes of a business skyscraper.


2. Maturity of Technology

The IoT technology which makes Smart Buildings has developed quickly over the past two to three years. There is no reason to think that this growth has stopped, but we have seen the emergence of some common protocols which have become stable and mature which can provide the basis of a Smart Buildings programme. This includes Open Protocols such as LoraWAN which is often the basis of further technical innovation around sensors. This technology provides the long-range and low power data transmission, the key infrastructure for any Smart Buildings programme. It is secure and is inexpensive enough to scale. Newer innovations are looking at building on LoraWAN technology but also complimenting it. A lot of really interesting Smart Building technology right now can either be nodes on a LoraWAN network or can add value to the data that is transmitted over the network. This allows the network to be future-proofed, which removes another worry that systems will go out of date very quickly.

3. Integration of Systems

Systems integration is a key part of the benefits that Smart Buildings can provide. Good technology systems should integrate up-to-date data into asset management databases so that the information is live and current. This is an important opportunity that Smart Buildings unlock and a key reason to consider a portfolio approach to Smart Buildings. That will mean a single technology suite can integrate into corporate systems, making the management of data flows more straightforward. However, once again, this is where a Smart Building strategy becomes vital as it would map out the integrations, identifying the value, risks and opportunities of each.

4. Limited Resources Cost and ROI

The transition to portfolio management of Smart Buildings will have initial capital costs. It requires planning, additional expertise and implementation. While many of these costs can be optimised the value case is very important. There are important benefits to Smart Buildings and over time they will be cost positive, particularly for those who have clear objectives and can make strategic decisions about how a portfolio Smart Building roll-out is conducted. Here are some key areas of cost savings:

    1. Energy savings: Carbon Intelligence’ Smart Building solution, CAPP, has saved on average 14% energy cost savings, and typically has a sub-1-year payback. This may vary across a portfolio but thekey opportunity for Smart Buildings is overall reduction of energy and the associated costs and environmental impact.
    2. Staff and occupant productivity benefits: Another area that Carbon Intelligence has been focusing on is improving occupant wellbeing. This is known to have a productivity benefit to building occupants through more comfortable working conditions and higher talent retention
    3. Maintenance and labour benefits: precise pin-pointing of building faults has reduced the labour costs required for maintenance of buildings. Already, programmes like Carbon Intelligence’ CAPP have been able to highlight specific failed components, identifying faults quickly,reducing the time and cost of replacement.
    4. Replacement cost of capital goods: currently the Planned Preventative Maintenance schedule dictates how capital goods are replaced based on age. As we learn from our smart buildings, we’ll soon be able to highlight when key machinery requires replacement based on performance. This will mean that underperforming kit can be replaced sooner, before it fails. Or perfectly good machinery is kept going, longer than it’s PPM life because the signs of it slowing down have not been found.
    5. Smart Commissioning: With “Soft Landings” and an increased focus on the commissioning process, there is an opportunity for Smart Commissioning which includes a complete diagnosis of plant and systems during the commissioning process. This review can ensure that building strategies are correctly in place. However, most importantly, it can test equipment before they are used in operations and before they fall out of warranty. Smart commissioning establishes best practice from day one of a building’s operations, allowing the building to achieve it’s designed performance, or explaining the specific gap.


5. Culture and Adoption of Technology

The biggest barrier to adoption of a portfolio approach to Smart Buildings is culture. Organisations who can understand the risks of new technology and adopt it effectively will maximise the benefits and the early learnings provided by Smart Buildings and ultimately stay ahead. Like any operational programme, Smart Buildings will provide many benefits when implemented in a strategic way. In this way, risks will be managed, and opportunities correctly identified. This strategic method will require the collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the business, from all levels. However, this level of cross-business buy-in will establish the value in the Smart Building strategy is recognized from the start and ensure a more successful roll-out.


Business buildings - modern glass skyscrapers in London.
London skyscrapers on the river Thames.



These are the key barriers we believe to be the main pain points holding companies back from taking the next step in their sustainability journey. But what is clear to see is that these barriers can be overcome and controlled through proper strategic planning, which when done properly will ensure the longevity of your smart building project and future proof it against the ever-changing landscape of the IoT.

If you have any questions about what you’ve read here or would like to know more about how our team can guide your business through the journey of transforming your buildings please get in touch [email protected]