The launch of a building certification program can be powerful driver for change. Consider Energy Star and LEED. Both arrived at times when the opportunity for gains was significant. Both helped to transform the facility market by providing sought-after stamps of approval.
Smart buildings is another arena that could benefit from a widely accepted stamp of approval. An abundance of smart technology exists to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, improve maintenance, prevent downtime, and enhance comfort, and the expansion of the Building Internet of Things promises more gains in the future.
That’s why it was good to learn that the European Union is looking into the idea of a Smart Readiness Indicator for buildings. The hope is to provide “an incentive for the integration of cutting edge Information and Communications Technology (ICT) based solutions for energy efficiency into buildings, which can assist in creating more healthy and comfortable buildings with a lower energy use and carbon impact, and facilitate the integration of renewable energy systems,” says the EU group studying the idea.
It’s way too early to say what will come of the group’s efforts. One obstacle will be defining exactly what a smart building is. But the same thing was true of green buildings before LEED, which essentially defined green buildings in the United States. Another challenge will be market acceptance. The Building Intelligence Quotient was launched about a decade ago in North America by the respected industry group CABA, the Continental Automated Buildings Association, but it never gained traction.
Still, talk of a Smart Readiness Indicator is encouraging. It’s becoming easier and less expensive all the time to make buildings smart. And reducing carbon emissions, the underlying driver for the EU effort, will only become a higher priority. With so much opportunity — and need — I can only wish the EU success, and hope that their efforts will spur similar action here.