Would you know a smart building if you walked into one? I’m not sure I would.
There is no shortage of tools to make buildings smarter. Sophisticated, interoperable building automation systems. Increasingly advanced controls for a wide range of equipment. Intelligent sensors to capture data about the way the building is operating and the way it is being used. Platforms to integrate multiple building systems. Powerful analytics. Apps to enable occupants to find and reserve meeting rooms, or navigate large facilities, or adjust environmental conditions.
But how many of those tools have to be deployed for a building to be officially smart? Which ones?
The European Union is looking into the question of whether to create a certification program to answer the question, what is a smart building? Such a program would aim to raise awareness about the energy-efficiency and other benefits of smart buildings, with the hope of boosting investment and accelerating the adoption of smart products and systems in facilities.
The program, still in a preliminary stage, is known as the Smart Readiness Indicator. It begins with three goals for a building: ability to adapt to user needs, energy efficient performance, and responsiveness to the electric grid. The latest report by the technical group working on the Smart Readiness Indicator spells out a range of building services — HVAC, lighting, controls and monitoring, the dynamic building envelope, electricity, and electric vehicle charging. The performance of each would be ranked in terms of seven criteria: energy savings on site, maintenance and fault prediction, comfort, convenience for users, health and wellbeing, information for occupants, and energy flexibility. A functional scoring system has been developed, and a public test of that system has been conducted.
The technical group’s work represents a sophisticated, thorough approach to ranking smart buildings. Its latest report amounts to a draft proposal that is still being revised and ultimately will have to be approved. The final decision on whether to proceed with the Smart Readiness Indicator and what the rating system will look like rests with the European Commission and the EU member states.