Businesses need to incorporate smart building technologies or risk financial penalties warn experts

Roundtable debate highlights key drivers for smart buildings and considers what’s preventing wide scale adoption 

10-December 2013 – New environmental building legislation and competition to fill office or retail space are the two key drivers for smart buildings according to delegates that attended a recent roundtable hosted by infrastructure specialists Redstone. Debating the key drivers for smart buildings and the barriers hindering adoption, Redstone was joined by industry experts from engineering consultants Buro Happold and Norman Disney & Young and construction services company ISG. Matt Salter, delivery director, Redstone said: “All commercial properties which are rented out or that are up for sale must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and this quickly shines a light on whether  the building is efficient or not. “Tenants will seek out efficient buildings to keep costs down – particularly in the face of spiralling energy costs. In addition, with large organisations needing to report on their energy usage and meet carbon targets, the requirement for energy efficient smart buildings will only grow.” “Competition to fill office and retail space in new builds is the other key driver for smart buildings agreed delegates. Peter McDermott, building integration consultant, Buro Happold said: “Buildings need to deliver more to attract tenants in this competitive market. Value add in retail space is a real pull for retailers. They want to move into facilities with integrated systems that enable security, digital signage and clever lighting to help them run their stores efficiently and sell more products. “Equally, retailers expect the outlet their store is based in to work smartly to ensure footfall remains high. Offering customers free Wi-Fi, and secure and intelligent parking systems will attract more visitors and encourage them to stay on the premises for longer.” “The same is true when it comes to business space,” added Katherine Farrington, communications and security section manager, Norman, Disney Young. “Certainly for start-up businesses that may not have much capital, moving into an intelligent building means that they can access affordable office space with a network already in place and IT services that can be used as and when they need them. “For this reason, the inclusion of intelligent networks within buildings represents a very real opportunity for developers and landlords to appeal to a whole new segment of the occupier market.” All delegates agreed that although the concept of a smart or intelligent building is nothing new, industry is still being slow at adopting the technologies that enable them. The reason for this, they believe, is because the implementation of these systems is being overlooked at the planning stage. Paul Pompili, divisional director, fit out, ISG said: “When a building is designed, the IT team isn’t consulted and this needs to change. The network needs to be the first thing into the building. Typically a new build will be worked on by a range of contractors and suppliers but ultimately you need a smart integrated team that incorporates IT, comms, security, utilities and so on if you want a smart building.” The delegates also agreed that the cost of implementing smart building technologies was hindering wide scale adoption. If the technologies are not identified at the drawing board stage then it can become difficult and more expensive to justify this expense later in the process. However, in spite of the initial outlay of costs, delegates concluded that smart building technologies shouldn’t be overlooked as they help businesses run more effectively and efficiently in the long term and can deliver a significant ROI. McDermott concludes: “For a building to be truly smart, the built in technology needs to be used for real business benefit. There’s no point in implementing smart systems if there’s no payback.”

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