What Are Intelligent Buildings? A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Facilities

Intelligent buildings are a powerful resource to help enterprises create efficient and sustainable workplaces.

What is an intelligent building

As technology advances, our physical surroundings are becoming more complex. Any given room can house multiple connected smart devices, many of which are built directly into the buildings themselves. Unfortunately, complexity isn’t always beneficial — the standard commercial facility wastes 30% of its energy on inefficient processes. That’s why engineers use intelligent building designs to make the most out of physical spaces in innovative and sustainable ways.

This article will discuss intelligent buildings, what they can do, and how enterprises can implement them into their own workspaces.

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What are intelligent buildings?

What are the characteristics of intelligent building technology?

Reliable internet connectivity

Optimized maintenance

Energy efficiency

Automated and personalized services

What are intelligent building solutions?

Intelligent business management systems

Advanced modeling capabilities

Granular controls

How Vera can help

What are intelligent buildings?

Intelligent buildings are facilities that leverage complex automated systems to maximize operational efficiency and the well-being of occupants. Historically, the term often referred to structures built for sustainability instead of smart technology. Today, the definition includes simplified maintenance, enhanced tenant experiences, increased productivity, and much more. Thankfully, we don’t have to choose between green buildings vs. intelligent buildings — they can be one and the same.

Intelligent building design integrates IoT-connected devices, cloud computing, augmented reality, and other systems into a platform that automates day-to-day processes. If an intelligent building knows that someone usually enters a room at 11:00, it can adjust HVAC systems to ensure the temperature is at a comfortable level. Then, if the individual does not arrive at 11:00, it can adjust the HVAC to save energy.

Since each intelligent building is unique in its own right, there are countless possible applications for the technology. For example, in commercial real estate, smart apartments and intelligent buildings can complement each other by tapping into a facility-wide network and granting specific permissions to authorized tenants. By and large, however, most designers focus on goals like energy efficiency or employee productivity.

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What are the characteristics of intelligent building technology?

Reliable internet connectivity

All intelligent buildings need internet access to leverage the IoT capabilities of devices in their networks. Simply adding WiFi routers isn’t enough — designers need to maximize coverage, avoid building materials that block signals and have contingencies in place for emergencies. For these reasons, Ethernet cables are the most reliable infrastructure for bringing various systems together. Whether you’re upgrading a standard building or designing a facility from the ground up, extensive wiring plans are the intelligent choice.

Optimized maintenance

When something breaks down in an intelligent building, facility managers need to get it running as quickly as possible. Thankfully, these systems can use preventative maintenance tools to monitor performance and recommend inspections in advance. In addition, building designs should include easy maintenance access to hardware and software assets across the entire structure. Finally, a digital twin with indoor navigation options — like those powered by Resonai’s Vera Platform — can direct repair teams to trouble areas with minimal assistance from other staff.

Energy efficiency

The most common energy waste occurs from everyday inefficiencies, such as always-on lights or overactive air conditioning. Intelligent buildings can automate this usage to reduce costs and promote sustainability. For example, the facility might adjust climate controls based on the number of occupants in a given space. Workspace lighting may activate when a desk is in use and switch off once everyone leaves. These efficiencies add up over time, reducing operating expenses.

Automated and personalized services

Both intelligent and smart buildings have similar features that combine IoT devices, online connectivity, and energy efficiency. One key difference is automation — while smart buildings offer interfaces to control facility operations, intelligent buildings manage them automatically. Advanced networks use sensors to detect tenant locations and predict where they will be before optimizing the building environment accordingly.

Where both facilities overlap, however, is personalization. Intelligent and smart buildings provide tools to enhance any tenant or employee’s effectiveness, productivity, and even comfort within its walls. Smart buildings can grant user control of appliances while intelligent buildings activate them automatically, but both are tailored to serve individuals.

Take a look at "Intelligent Building Structure: Designing For Success From the Ground Up" for more intelligent building examples.

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What are intelligent building solutions?

Most commercial buildings in 2021 have IoT devices — even if just a smart speaker. What sets intelligent buildings apart from their standard counterparts is the scale of connectivity. As a result, the space must be designed or redesigned so all devices support each other and contribute to a holistic and efficient experience. As you might imagine, these systems can become quite complex, which is why stakeholders need intelligent building solutions to remain organized.

Intelligent business management systems

Building management systems (BMS) are platforms that centralize control for systems throughout a facility. Compared to traditional buildings, a facility manager would need to operate each process manually — be it security, lighting, building access, HVAC, or something else. A BMS puts all functions into a single platform or dashboard, so managers have control from a centralized location.

Intelligent building management systems (IBMS) go a step further by connecting building operations to the IoT. These systems are standard in smart buildings with IoT devices but need additional support to increase efficiency. For example, while a BMS lets facility managers prepare lighting schedules during business hours, an IMBS can draw on usage data and adapt to individual preferences.

At its core, any effective IBMS will unify disparate facility processes and tools, regardless of platform or protocol. To fully leverage the capabilities of intelligent buildings, however, it needs the following features:

Advanced modeling capabilities

The most robust IMBS platforms use machine learning engines to sift through datasets they collect from sensors throughout their facility. Advanced modeling tools then use this data to make predictions or forecast changes in activity. Preventative maintenance is one example of what this capability can accomplish, but it could also simulate foot traffic, test the ways new furniture can impact IoT, and more.

Granular controls

Intelligent buildings are best known for their automation capabilities, but they also enable precise control of building features. A well-designed IBMS should offer big picture and granular perspectives of the structure, from entire floors to individual visitors. Facility managers may need to look up a single smart device in a specific room or make network-wide changes to security systems — IBMS makes that possible.

For a closer look at IBMS features and how they compare to traditional building software, check out "What Are Intelligent Building Management Systems?"

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How Vera can help

When constructing an intelligent building from scratch or upgrading an existing facility, you need a platform you can trust. That’s why Resonai created Vera, the all-in-one solution for digitizing the built world. Vera lets building managers convert their properties into digital assets that can be customized, personalized, and monetized through a comprehensive digital twin that places a new world of control at your fingertips.

Are you ready to learn more? Get in touch with Resonai today and set up a free demonstration.

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