Sep 18, 2018 in Viewpoint

The rise of the smart building

Through the course of the centuries, various components of buildings have been developed and embellished. These days, buildings are a complex combination of structures, systems and technology. We call them ‘smart buildings’.

Anne Wernand
by Anne Wernand
Smart building

What is a smart building?

Smart (adjective, adverb; comparative: smarter, superlative: smartest) Inventive, sharp, especially in coming up with solutions, in estimating etc.

A smart building is an adaptive complex that is perfectly in tune with its users and continuously adapts to their needs.

In practice, this means that these kinds of buildings are equipped with sensors. These sensors detect where users are, what they are doing, and what they are using. All of these sensors and systems can be built-in during the construction phase of a building (The Edge) or they can be installed afterwards. Ultimately, the building generates all kinds of data via these sensors but also via the lighting, security, coffee machine, and heating systems. By way of ‘smart’ software, all of the data from these systems is integrated and linked. This enables us to see not only what users are doing and using but we can also discover patterns. By interpreting these patterns we can quickly find out what the users of a building need and what they will do in the future. Smart software systems such as Mapiq are essential in combining various sources of data. These systems form the basis for optimising the property management. Smart software systems are the basis for Smart buildings.

The Edge in Amsterdam

Sustainable and cost-efficient

The use of this data can result in many benefits and can support the sustainability goals of organisations. These systems make it possible, for example, to only supply power to the places where employees will be actually working or to turn on the heating or cooling only shortly before eplomyees arrive. Linking access control systems to the energy provision and climate control systems makes this possible. In addition, the heating and cooling systems will never run needlessly at night or during the weekends. Based on the data that these smart buildings generate, entire floors can be left without power on say, a Friday afternoon, because the sensors have revealed that far fewer people are at the office during this time frame.


Motion sensors and camera technology can also be implemented to monitor the behaviour of people. These can gauge how people move through a building, how often conference rooms are used, which workstations are most popular - all information that is gathered by the sensors. The next step involves implementing this technology to not only gauge this behaviour, but also to influence it. Smart buildings know who is inside, what the preferences of these people are, how they are related to each other and the buildings are then able to anticipate their needs. Through the collection and processing of behavioural data, a great deal of information can be amassed. This will enable us to predict behaviour and then programme the facilities to anticipate it. Do you like to drink espresso in the morning or a cappuccino at four o’clock? The coffee machine will already know how you drink your coffee and will already start preparing it when the sensors detect that you’re heading towards the machine. Another example: on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you drive the car to work, while you’re having breakfast, you will receive a message about an available space in the parking garage and a traffic update. We can also map out individual preferences for the work environment thereby creating the optimal conditions on the work floor for everyone. This way, an employee who has just entered the building will receive a message which informs them whether or not their favourite spot on the fourth floor is available.

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