Smart Building Technology—The Next Differentiator

Historically, business owners have placed a premium on location, demographics, and accessibility when it came to site selection. While these factors will always play an important role in leasing a space—as they should—new trends are emerging that focus on “smart building” technology.

Simply put, smart buildings make use of current technology and automation in order to improve its management and functionality. By introducing some of the more popular tech features, building owners and commercial real estate professionals find that properties can increase in value, have happier tenants, and save on operating costs in the long run.

According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate, “technology will significantly change the office leasing, operating, and structural environment going forward.” Buildings are evolving to incorporate more technological advances. But supporting additional devices means equipping the space with high-speed connections and specific network capabilities.

Many of these features are not new to the marketplace. In fact, some of the technology has been used for decades to cut down on growing energy consumption. What is changing is the rising importance placed on these features when seeking a potential space.

Here’s a look at some of the more popular smart building tools that are utilized in commercial buildings and how they can potentially enhance a property:

Lighting Controls & Sensors

As stated above, lighting sensor technology is not new to commercial real estate. Several companies have put smart lighting features in place that have drastically decreased energy consumption—along with their energy bills—making the office more comfortable and efficient for occupants.

As sensor technology becomes more advanced, businesses are adopting tools that can monitor and record data about the use of a building’s various rooms. The information gathered updates owners of the occupants’ habits, like how often a conference room is reserved versus how often it’s actually used.

Rather than relying solely on manual observations, this type of sensor solution delivers accurate data so it’s easy to see exactly how available space is being utilized. This has allowed businesses to make calculated decisions when repurposing underused square footage in their facility.

Enhanced Security Features

Building security has progressed past the point of a few locks on the front door. Thanks to recent technology, biometric security is at the forefront of people’s minds.

Mobile devices have made great strides in this type of security by introducing features such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition, and other industries are following suit. Similar technology is now making buildings more advanced by adding additional credentials for entering. Other companies are doing away with traditional keys or fobs and allowing employees to unlock doors with their mobile devices.

There are already plenty of options when it comes to live video footage and remotely controlling locks and security measures from mobile phones and apps—and they are continuing to grow in popularity.

Of course, many of these newer security features are still being ironed out when it comes to effectiveness. But it’s expected that as technology continues to improve, more and more business owners will opt in for additional security measures.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Cooling (HVAC) Features

Many buildings are now using powerful software to automatically control building thermostats, water heaters, sprinkler systems, and even monitor for water leaks. New optimized HVAC systems can calculate the best way to heat or cool a space based on the time of day and other factors. These tools are helping businesses save money, water, and become more environmentally conscious.

With HVAC systems connected to a network, it’s possible to automatically heat and cool rooms based on individual needs. If a room is not being used for long periods of time, the cooling could automatically shut off—thus saving the energy it would take to cool an empty room.

Smart Cities Dive, an online publication specializing in technology savvy cities, reported, “buildings consume about 30% of the world’s energy.” Having software that can track variables in the environment is crucial to using the space most effectively.

Advanced Audio/Visual Systems

Offices have different needs when it comes to the integration of audio/visual technology. Most modern spaces are adding network-connected systems that allow users to stream music and video throughout the office via their mobile devices. These systems allow tenants to take presentations and necessary multimedia documents anywhere in the office and instantly connect to any conference room screen, iPad, or other viewing devices.

But functionality isn’t the only issue. Modern offices are looking for ways to integrate the technology seamlessly without disrupting the aesthetics of the space. This means hiding systems completely from view and paying close attention to how people will interact with the design.

Finally, it’s important to remember that technology is changing daily. So having systems that are adaptable is a must. Many of the tools mentioned above may require additional features to make them work correctly—like high-speed fiber connections.

Knowing the possibilities of your future office space will help you make decisions when it comes to the integration of smart building technology and understanding what will work best for you.

What other smart building features do you think are important? Is there a new technology that you’d like to see introduced to your office building? Let us know in the comments!

 If you have questions about office space that incorporates smart building features, be sure to contact Crunkleton office broker Eric St. John at eric@crunkletonassociates.com.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

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