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Ryan Dennis

CRE Owners: You Are Only as Smart as Your Building

Commercial real estate is an industry focused on the properties that hold the very fabric of our society together. Our high-rise buildings are the nexuses of where we practice business and serve as symbols for our growing nations. Commercial real estate technology (a.k.a. ‘PropTech’) illuminates the future of these living environments and provides a new vision for our city skylines.

However, at the very heart of the CRE technology industry today is smart building technology, which allows us to express our technological advancements while finally creating equilibrium with the world around us.

What exactly makes a building “smart?”

The difference between a smart building and a not-so-smart building is the value it provides to its environment.  Smart building technology systems aim to cultivate a communicative, operational infrastructure that can create endless opportunities for comfort, convenience, and financial maturity.

For example, a brand-new smart building in Minnesota empowers its own hours of operation, where the highest energy concentrations are and can limit power usage by using sensors in office suites. These sensors may provide occupancy data to energy management systems (EMS) so the building can run more efficiently. From this data, buildings can tailor their HVAC and lighting system schedules toward occupancy levels instead of running the building 24/7.

Who needs smart building technology?

We all do.

I respect the Inuit and their fascinating intellectual prowess for building innovation. From a CREtech perspective, they are among the smartest architects. The marvelous Inuit people successfully built their homes to balance with their environment–which is brilliant, by any standard. Yet, if you plan on owning property with more than an igloo on it, then you should look beyond the financial gains of building tech and also consider the environmental impact it has on the rest of us. Your property is going to outlast you, so to ensure its survival, constantly innovate its capabilities for the future.

“Is smart building technology important? Yeah — especially if you consider money to be important.”

One of the primary financial benefits of smart building technology is resource efficiency. Emerging management techniques and applications find faults in your building and then monetizes them. According to, reducing weekend hours for HVAC and lighting services can decrease your energy costs and operating expenses. This strategy, amongst others, may reduce your power consumption by as much as 30%.

There are services on the market which are helping to facilitate this BOMA strategy. Today, property teams can offer tenants on-demand access to over time HVAC and lighting. This enables property teams to reduce operating costs by allowing the building to disable the energy management system (EMS) schedules during low occupancy periods such as weekends and holidays.

With simple mobile phone apps, tenants have the ability to schedule their own after hours requests immediately; anytime, anywhere. Clipboards and work orders are dying because tenants in smart buildings may receive comfort on demand at their fingertips. Smart building tech implementation would mean property teams and tenants may work and communicate in a more productive, humanistic manner than request work orders or manually created invoices.

Here’s the cherry on top for building owners, automating more requests means more money. Think about it, the more your tenants feel a sense of control over their environment, the more money you make.

Is smart building technology important?

Yeah — especially if you consider money to be important.

For tenants, owners and property managers alike, buildings without smart tech are simultaneously hurting our wallets and environment. The best part of consulting asset managers and building owners is helping them to rediscover the endless potential of their properties, both technologically and financially.

If you’re wondering, “Is smart building technology financially feasible, or just something to keep in mind for the future?” The answer is both. Financially, there is so much more we can accomplish today with just the click of a button.

According to BI Intelligence, the smartest people in engineering and building construction take money savings and property management pretty seriously. The United States alone will invest over $58 billion in smart building technology services before we see 2020:

Smart Building Technology

This mission towards an economically sound ecosystem of intelligent moving parts is one of the primary goals of smart building technology. The fantasy of a net zero building with control over your own savings is a dream worth investing in.

Office buildings of any age or class may be wired with the latest smart technologies. If we embraced the importance of implementing smart building tech, air quality, energy efficiency, social connectivity, geez Louise — life itself on Earth would improve.

Now you know about smart building technology’s potential impact on big data, connectivity, coolness (literally), our environment and our economy. You are basically a #PropTech expert now.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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