You’ve just secured a new job after months of searching, and you arrive at the new office. The security bar at the parking lot lifts after scanning your car’s license, letting you in. You don’t stop at the front desk to check in or secure an ID card. Instead, you’re tracked via an app on your smartphone, guiding you to the right elevator and even desk for your shift.  

You don’t even turn on the industrial panel PC on the desk. It turns itself on and logs into your account per the app information. 

Science fiction? Not really. This is a smart building, and the above scene is a glimpse of the technology’s potential. Today’s article covers what they are, the smart building technologies involved, and the challenges – and solutions – they bring to today’s ever-growing technological society.  

What is a Smart Building

A smart building uses advanced digital technologies to manage typical building operations: heating and cooling, energy, lighting, plumbing, access control, security, and other services. 

Smart buildings aim to create a safe and comfortable environment for occupants, dwellers, and visitors.

Other names include intelligent or connected buildings.   

The adoption of smart buildings worldwide is driven by a number of factors:

  • Availability of smart building products like AI to process data (see below). 
  • Occupancy levels change from remote employees to hybrid work schedules.
  • Demand for healthy building environments to prevent or reduce worker sickness (e.g., the 2020 pandemic).
  • Extreme weather conditions as climate change makes the weather more unpredictable. 
  • Rising energy costs due to rate hikes and power grid disruptions.  

Benefits of Smart Buildings

Internet of Things, or IoT, is one of the most fundamental features of a smart building. It allows numerous connected devices like real-time IoT occupancy sensors and building management systems to “talk” to each other. Communication can be done through a wired connection or, more commonly, via Wi-Fi and the Internet. 

The smart building processes data from its IoT. An occupied desk, for example, is an example of such a data point. Another is when someone accesses or leaves the building or even a room. 

Finally, any and all of this information may trigger responses from the smart building. Lights and the AC may turn off if workers haven’t been detected for a while. Or a security camera may start recording if certain behaviors have been detected (e.g., a window is broken).

Many of these technologies have been adapted from smart factories and smart grids, where they have proven their reliability and effectiveness. 

So, how are building managers and owners benefiting from smart buildings? 

Enhancing User Experience

Smart buildings can have a highly personalized and comfortable environment. A smart hotel, for example, can be configured to: 

  • Provide automated lighting to guests when they enter their room each time.
  • Adjust room temperature depending on the time of day and night. 
  • Alert guests via security alerts when someone’s in their room while out on a stroll.  

Optimizing Energy Efficiency

The US government estimates that the residential and commercial sectors contribute up to 40 percent of the country’s energy consumption. Lighting, HVAC, and computer use are just a few examples of what’s driving up the energy bills and straining the power grids.

Technology in buildings can aid in reducing this consumption. Their IoT can:

  • Automatically adjust building systems like cooling to optimize energy usage. 
  • Process real-time data and predictive analytics to open or close windows depending on the season. 

Streamlining Operations

As previously mentioned, buildings are complex structures. A lot goes into managing and maintaining its numerous operations (e.g., electricity consumption). 

Smart building technologies revolutionize those operations and their components:

  • Using remote monitoring systems and advanced automation, facility managers gain real-time insights on their industrial tablets. IoT systems can let them know, for example, what percentage of the underground garage is in use at certain times of the year or day. 
  • Advanced security systems can track guests via their smartphone and guide them to their destination in the building. Only the doors and elevators on that route will work for them. These systems result in increased operational efficiency.

Improving Safety and Security

The occupants of a building want to feel safe and secure. It doesn’t matter if it’s a high-rise office, an apartment complex, or a strip mall. This feeling of safety and security extends to any customers and guests. 

Smart buildings offer sophisticated security features to bring peace of mind. They can include:

  • Facial recognition technology, a form of biometric access control, identifies only the appropriate personnel via their face or physical traits like fingerprints, palm veins, and iris.
  • Video surveillance systems are used to watch public areas in and around the building. They are programmed to respond to unusual activity detected on those video images (e.g., spot broken glass).

Disadvantages of Technology in Smart Buildings

Smart technologies buildings promise enhanced efficiency, comfort, and convenience. However, the IoT technology does come with drawbacks. Disadvantages of smart buildings, and their challenges, issues, and possible solutions may include: 

Increased Dependency on Technology

Smart buildings rely on smart sensors, industrial and enterprise computers, and network access (especially Wi-Fi). Most if not all can be disrupted by power outages, system malfunctions, and other forms of technological failures. 

Essential services such as heating, cooling, and security systems could go down. While this may cause inconvenience for some of the building’s occupants, others could prove catastrophic (e.g., smart hospital’s monitoring of babies’ vitals in a NICU). 

Backup systems that run independently of smart technologies may answer these situations. 

Privacy and Security Concerns of Smart Building Technologies

Smart buildings come with a vast array of sensors, cameras, and interconnected devices. They gather massive amounts of data as a matter of course. Privacy advocates have pointed out constant monitoring raises valid concerns about privacy and data security. 

Bad actors could target that data, which contains personal information and sensitive data of the building’s occupants and visitors. 

Building owners and managers will need robust security measures to keep that data secure. 

Other disadvantages of smart buildings:

  • Connecting all the different devices, platforms, or software from different manufacturers within a building can be a complex process. 
  • The initial investment required to construct a smart building can be substantial. Retrofitting an existing building can be even more costly. 
  • Current facility managers and occupants may need adequate training and support in using the smart building features. 


There is no doubt smart buildings will be revolutionizing homes, offices, and stores – basically, any dwelling with a roof. The advantages of this form of digital transformation are too numerous to count: lower energy bills, greater security, etc. Workarounds for smart building challenges, like costs, will eventually be overcome. 

Contact an expert at Cybernet if you want to learn more about smart buildings and how their benefits can be obtained thanks to industrial computers and tablets. 

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