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U.S. Facilities Not as Smart as Building Managers Think They Are

A survey of nearly 500 buildings across seven major U.S. cities shows that while the vast majority of building managers do agree about the beneficial nature of green initiatives, their facilities aren’t equipped with the right technology to maximize energy efficiency and sustainability. While the country’s airports, government offices and hospitals are leading the way with smart buildings, the survey found that, in general, the intelligence of U.S. buildings is low.

The survey, conducted by Honeywell, found that fifty-one percent of respondents cite safety as the primary gauge of a smart building, while 27 percent say green assets and 22 percent say productive assets are the most indicative qualities.

Honeywell has also developed a Smart Building Score that evaluates facilities based on the technology used to make them green, safe and productive —three main indicators of smart buildings.

  • The green asset group includes a building’s use of natural resources, flexible heating and cooling systems, and control panels for monitoring energy consumption — all of which impact carbon emissions, a facility’s environmental footprint and utility costs for the building occupant or user.
  • The safe category includes access control, surveillance and intrusion monitoring, fire systems, emergency communications, and health and life safety systems.
  • The productive category measures those technologies that help boost productivity, and includes indoor air quality sensors, lighting systems, data and communications infrastructure such as wired and wireless networks, and backup electricity systems for uninterrupted power.

Organizations that took part in the research were asked to self-assess their buildings and give them a score on the 1-100 scale. Participants consistently overrated the intelligence of their facilities — the average difference between perceived and real scores was more than 20 points. By Honeywell’s calculations, the actual average score was just 35.

“There’s an emerging opportunity for buildings to make real contributions to an organization’s mission,” said Alex Ismail, President and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions. “In addition to helping keep occupants healthy, safe and productive, smart buildings can drive top-line growth and bottom-line profits, making facilities strategic assets instead of overhead.”

According to the survey, the top drivers of smart building technology are currently fire detection systems, efficient appliances and fixtures, and remote access/wired infrastructure.

Public buildings universally perform better than private buildings, with airports, government offices and hospitals being the smartest buildings and high-rise residences and private offices the least smart.

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

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