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What Does It Mean for a Building to Be Smart?

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The buzz around smart buildings has been going strong for years. In fact, many paths have been traveled down in an attempt to reach the famed destination of a smart building. Thus far, the industry has struggled to agree upon a definition of what smart is and, without a clear destination, no building can truly reach it. “We have to start with a shared mind which comes from a shared purpose and needing to truly create definition around what success looks like. What are the standards and the non-negotiables that we should, as an industry, align around?” explained Ryan Simonetti, CEO and co-founder of Convene.

As an organization that assesses, certifies, and improves digital connectivity and smart technology in homes and offices on a global scale, WiredScore is in a unique position to answer the question of what smart means. WiredScore certainly isn’t new to the building certification space either; the legacy WiredScore certification has certified 700 million square feet of office space, impacting seven million people in 160 cities across 12 countries around the world.

WiredScore has brought a solution to market to address the challenge of measuring how smart a building is: SmartScore. SmartScore is a certification for smart buildings designed to help landlords understand, improve, and communicate the user functionality and technological foundations of their buildings.

To ensure that SmartScore is a globally relevant certification that brings true clarity to the market, WiredScore convened the Smart Council. Comprised of over 90 global, forward-thinking companies, the WiredScore Smart Council worked with WiredScore to form a global definition of smart buildings and develop an intellectual framework for SmartScore.

The WiredScore Smart Council marked the first time landlords, tenants and real estate leaders of such caliber came together to combine their knowledge and expertise to provide a dedicated approach to the impact of smart buildings within real estate. As a result, WiredScore’s definition of smart is uniquely accurate, relevant, and expertly informed – and the only definition generated by the industry for the industry: “A smart building delivers outstanding outcomes for all users, through digital technology, to exceed their evolving expectations.”

A smart building delivers outstanding outcomes for all users, through digital technology, to exceed their evolving expectations.

-WiredScore

SmartScore clarifies what constitutes a smart building and establishes a clear outcome for smart buildings, bringing much-needed clarity to the market. But what makes SmartScore special is the way in which it places the users of buildings first. SmartScore really looks at the outcomes that are delivered for building users, placing a heightened level of importance on those who interact with the building on a day-to-day basis. 

Smart and sustainable

As ESG initiatives continue to gain momentum, tackling the climate crisis is commonly accepted as the global imperative of our time. The built environment alone generates emissions equivalent to 8.65 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Buildings, and associated emissions, contribute nearly 40 percent of all carbon emissions globally, creating mounting pressure on real estate to provide a green path forward.

It’s critical to improve in-use building performance. Although the industry can do a great deal to improve sustainability by improving building materials and processes during development, operating emissions account for nearly three-quarters of the 40 percent of carbon emissions from buildings. Reducing these in-use emissions can best be achieved by deploying smart technology to optimize operating regimes.

Smart buildings are inspirational, sustainable, cost-efficient, and future-proof spaces designed to deliver exceptional levels of engagement and satisfaction to the users of today and tomorrow. Smart buildings benefit all those who are involved with the building and, through delivering outcomes for the building users, smart buildings deliver far-superior, optimized levels of performance and efficiency.

Closely related to operational efficiency is cost-effectiveness. Through optimizing performance, utilities can be lessened and bills can be reduced. However, without data, it is near impossible to reduce energy consumption. Precise and accurate data collected through integrated technology allows operators to look at systems, modify their operations and save energy. With smart systems, buildings can be alerted if conflicting processes like heating and cooling are running simultaneously, or if buildings are unnecessarily lit or heated when vacant. 

Another outcome of smart buildings centers on creating an inspiring experience for users. Long gone are the days of cookie-cutter offices and cubicles; buildings today need to be flexible, empathizing with the user. “What’s enticing me, what’s encouraging me to go to the office? We need to have buildings that give you that excitement and that feeling that you can control your destiny from a tenant app. That the building really cares about you from a health and well-being standpoint,” said Jesse Carillo, Senior Vice President and CIO at Hines.

Smart buildings are a destination, but they’re also a mile marker for what’s next. By creating a certification like SmartScore, buildings can be benchmarked against their peers. As tenants become more aware and educated about the impact of buildings on the environment, the importance of a building being smart and outcome-driven is going to intensify. While promises to become smart are admirable, certification and ongoing data change words to action. As Joseph Zwillinger, Co-founder and CEO of Allbirds, said, “We have the ambition to be net carbon zero very quickly and we expect that of our landlord. If we don’t get that, we’re going to demand to move to different places.”

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