The State of Smart Buildings 2013: It’s all about people

2 min read
Jan 25, 2013

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In an era of smart phones, the smart grid, and even smart cars is it any wonder that the buildings that house businesses, government offices, and institutions may actually be leading the way when it comes to built-in intelligence.  But what is it that defines what could be called a Smart Building, an Intelligent Building, an Automated Building or a High Performance Building?

Consider this: A building with smart thermostats is more intelligent than a building with manual thermostats.  A building capable of notifying tenants of a break-in is smarter than one that cannot.  Buildings that could automatically adjust their energy consumption to avoid a utility’s peak demand charges would be even smarter than the majority of buildings that cannot.

The point is this:  In an era of constantly advancing technology, building owners have been installing a variety of “systems” that benefit both their building assets and their tenants.  But the true definition of a smart building lies in the ability to integrate these various systems and operate the building in such a way that allows the system benefits to be fully realized.  In other words, can the people operating the smart building operate the technology so that the facility actually performs for both owner and tenant?

The Drivers

So what is driving the smart building movement?  The number one driver is cost, and the main costs are energy, rental costs for the space and operating costs for the building.  For example, in the USA in the 1950s a kWh was 1.5 cents.  In the 1990s it was about 6.5 cents. Today, it is above 13 cents.  Buildings with various technology solutions for reducing space utilization and energy consumption and thereby cost, are the most desired smart building solutions.

Current Smart Building Technologies

So what are the most popular smart building components?  Here’s our best assessment of the top 10: Automated Temperature Controls, Automated Lighting Systems, Security Systems, Broad Band and Wi-Fi, Scalable Data System Architecture, Advanced Sensor Technology (motion, temperature and pressure), Alarms and Alerts, Centralized Control Dashboard for all systems, Air Quality Sensors and Energy Demand Monitoring and Management

You are probably familiar with those ten, but what is the missing piece of the puzzle?

The Latest Advance in Building Intelligence – People Metrics

Smart building operators, engineers, building owners and architects are always looking to add new intelligence to their buildings – especially if it can be easily integrated with existing control and communication systems.  From our work over the last two years Irisys has become convinced that integrating people counting metrics into the smart building system is a key, but largely overlooked, component of smart building systems.  

Consider how Irisys People Counters could be used.  Strategically placed sensors within a facility, for example at the entrance to conference rooms, offices or rest areas,  provide data on how many people are using the space, how often they are using it and at what times.  This information can then be used for resource allocation scheduling, to identify wasted or over-used space and to highlight areas for improvement or optimisation in cleaning and maintenance schedules.    

Irisys people counting data is used by building operators, consultants, corporate facility directors, and other building professionals to help understand the dynamics of the office environment.  The data helps designers re-purpose specific areas, or even allows tenants to consolidate their operations into smaller more efficient (and less costly) space.

Irisys technology is easily integrated with IP building systems and most major control and communication protocols for easy integration into the smart building architecture.


The state of smart buildings is expanding.  As we look ahead to the future of smart buildings, one thing appears certain:  tomorrow’s smart buildings will be considering the activity of people within the office space, and companies like Irisys will be bringing people counting to the forefront of building intelligence.


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