Book Image

Internet of Things for Smart Buildings

By : Harry G. Smeenk
5 (1)
Book Image

Internet of Things for Smart Buildings

5 (1)
By: Harry G. Smeenk

Overview of this book

Imagine working in a building with smart features and tenant applications that allow you to monitor, manage, and control every aspect of your user experience. Internet of Things for Smart Buildings is a comprehensive guide that will help you achieve that with smart building architecture, ecosystems, technologies, and key components that create a smart building. In this book, you’ll start by examining all the building systems and applications that can be automated with IoT devices. You’ll learn about different apps to improve efficiency, reduce consumption, and improve occupant satisfaction. You’ll explore IoT sensors, devices, computing platforms, analytics software, user interfaces, and connectivity options, along with common challenges you might encounter while developing the architecture. You’ll also discover how to piece different components together to develop smart buildings with the help of use cases and examples and get to grips with the various IoT stacks. After finding out where to start developing the requirements for your project, you’ll uncover a recommended methodology to understand your current building systems and a process for determining what needs to be modified, along with new technology requirements. By the end of the book, you’ll be able to design and build your own smart building initiative, turning your city into a smart city with one building at a time.
Table of Contents (22 chapters)
Part 1: Applications for Smart Buildings
Part 2: Smart Building Architecture
Part 3: Building Your Smart Building Stack
Part 4: Building Sustainability for Contribution to Smart Cities

A day in a smart building

Imagine for a moment that you are a highly experienced building engineer working for a property management company in their regional office located in an eight-floor downtown commercial office building. Imagine this building is a smart building and what a typical day might look like. This section will provide an example of the many smart building benefits and features this person might encounter. The example is used to place you in the smart building right away to begin to understand what a smart building is from its numerous applications and functions.

Arrival and access

You arrive at the building’s parking lot in your Electric Vehicle (EV), and you are notified via your smartphone or car display that spot #304 on the third floor is the closest EV charging spot available. Almost 40% of parking spots are EV charging spots in this smart building versus 2-5% in non-smart buildings. As you approach the building, your smartphone displays the real-time Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) score for the entrance lobby, the elevator banks and elevators, your floor’s lobby, and your office.

You are comforted to know that this smart building uses the very latest in IoT environmental sensors to continuously measure the air quality in your office, conference rooms, and common areas such as breakrooms and restrooms. In a post-pandemic environment, indoor air quality standards, regulations, and recommendations have been implemented around the world to ensure building occupants have safe air quality levels. An example of how IAQ constantly changes during the day is in a conference room. As more people enter the room, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels may increase beyond recommended levels, requiring the building’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to open air dampers to let more fresh air in to keep the IAQ score within recommended ranges.

The state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS) uses IoT sensors and controllers to monitor and control all the building’s various systems. These systems typically include HVAC, safety and security, cameras/CCTV, fire alarms, lighting, water, gas, other fluids, networking, communication, and so on. These systems provide a wealth of information about how the building is performing and are all well-suited for automation for efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

As you enter the building, occupancy sensors, facial recognition cameras, card access readers, smartphone QR codes, or any other IoT device solution approves your entrance, opens the doors, and registers you as entered the building, either as an occupant or guest. Guests may pre-register their information prior to arrival or they may be directed to a reception desk, a kiosk, or a phone system to complete registration. For existing occupants entering the building, a wealth of stakeholder-approved information is now accessed indicating the occupants’ preferences.

Information, preferences, and data

Using the occupant’s stored information, the smart elevator flashes a personalized welcome screen, selects an elevator car, opens the door automatically, and delivers the occupant to the correct floor, all touch free for added safety. Digital information is provided in the elevator highlighting that car’s IAQ, today’s building events and announcements, along with today’s cafeteria lunch special. As the elevator is on its way, your office lights turn on, the temperature is automatically adjusted to your preference, and your favorite music begins to play.

Once in your office, you immediately begin checking the numerous systems and portfolio buildings your company monitors in your Virtual Network Operations Center (VNOC). This requires enormous amounts of bandwidth, which is provided in this smart building via a high-bandwidth fiber-optic cable backhaul network. Using fiber-optic cables provides for greater capacity, increased speeds, reduced latency, and better supports a number of different technologies. A drone delivers your coffee directly to your desk and a FedEx in-building robot delivers your documents. Another robot fills components and supplies for inventory in the storage area.

As you prepare for the team meeting scheduled later in the day, you take a few minutes to review the real-time and historical energy management information for your office and the building. Recently, IoT sensors and controllers were installed in the energy management system along with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to deliver energy reductions of 20% to 30%. To monitor and improve energy efficiency, an energy accounting system measures, analyzes, and reports on the energy consumption of different activities on a continuous basis.

As part of the smart building’s lighting system, the daylight harvesting system can reduce energy consumption by using daylight to offset the amount of electric lighting needed by dimming or brightening the lights based on the actual daylight available. LED bulbs, voice activation, and motion sensors, along with lighting system management software, allow for additional scheduling and control capabilities.

Since many government agencies across the world offer tax deductions, funding, and/or other incentives for the costs of improving the energy efficiency of buildings, you begin to check to see what programs are available for your building. You note there is a deduction available for the entire cost of installing energy-efficient systems and smart meters in your building and you notify the accounting department to claim these credits. You also note that last month, your building’s solar panels were able to give back to the smart city grid and you’ll need to copy that data report to claim the incentives that are available via the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) initiative in your area. There may also be carbon footprint credits available you’ll want to check on.

Communications network and collaborative conferencing

As your smartphone rings, you are still amazed by the incredible in-building coverage you have for all your devices through the building’s secure private network. The building owner decided to treat communication and networking as a fourth utility in the building by delivering a highly secure system that provides coverage to 99.9% of the building, including elevators, stairwells, basements, and the parking garage. This privately owned system is comprised of vertical and horizontal fiber runs, coupled with 5G cellular small cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs) as part of the Radio Access Network (RAN). Wi-Fi, point-to-point commercial microwave links, and Bluetooth are also used to connect many IoT devices. Fiber-optic backhaul delivers high bandwidth and reduces latency for overall control.

It’s now 10:00 and you have a meeting scheduled in one of the many smart conference rooms. Since you are now working on a hybrid model, some of your team will be remote today and the smart conference tools will keep the meeting moving forward. You scheduled the room last week using a tenant application provided by the building manager. Lighting levels and the temperature have been automatically set to your profile preferences and the delivery robot has brought drinks and water for everyone.

With collaborative conferencing technology and AI tools, your presentation is automatically loaded from your computer, and audio and visual systems have been automatically turned on. The conference call autodial has launched, and team members are ready to begin the meeting right on time. Wireless broadband and airplay allow others to share data in real time during the meeting. The smart jam whiteboard captures all meeting information and notes, and the auto transcription system automatically captures and develops meeting notes that are sent directly to each participant immediately at the meeting’s conclusion.

During the meeting, you are asked to explain the smart privacy windows installed throughout the building. These sustainable, energy-efficient windows also act as transparent solar panels. Some may even contain antennas to help bring the cellular network into the building. Each window has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address used to identify itself and communicate with other devices. Since they tint automatically or via remote control, no bulky expensive blinds are required, and they control heat and glare. Immersive display windows/glass may also transform into digital, interactive surfaces. The View smart window company suggests workplace productivity and wellness are improved when such windows are in place, through improved moods, reduced eyestrain, fewer headaches, and less drowsiness.

The meeting is running long so we check to see that the conference room is available for another 2 hours, and we decide to work through lunch. Each person orders lunch from the building’s cafeteria via their smartphone and an autonomous delivery robot arrives 30 minutes later with everyone’s orders. These delivery robots are helping the building’s owner bridge the gap arising from recent labor shortages.

You are alerted via your smartphone that your guest speaker has arrived in the building. As she is registering with the front desk, a wayfinding application is automatically delivered to her smartphone. Wayfinding will help her navigate her way around the building and other unfamiliar environments. It safely manages the movement and flow of people through the building, while encouraging social distancing. It improves the user experience and contributes to a sense of well-being and security. It also saves time as you are not required to leave your meeting to go down to the front entrance to escort your guest.

Smart building infrastructure

This guest is a power vendor, and she is there to deliver a presentation on unique low-voltage power systems now being considered for the building. A few different alternatives are being explored, starting with Power over Ethernet (PoE). In a POE system, electric power and data are transferred using Ethernet cables. Savings are achieved by eliminating separate power supply cabling and outlets. Power over Fiber (PoF) is similar, whereby the fiber-optic cable carries optical power to supply the energy source, and data is transmitted over the same fiber cable.

The meeting will conclude with two short education and training sessions. The first session is on meeting regulatory requirements for your building. There are specific national, provincial, state, county, city, town, and local jurisdiction requirements that vary greatly across countries, regions, and continents. Our instructor does not want to give another boring slide presentation, so they hand us all Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. VR training delivers on-the-job training using real-life settings through an immersive learning experience. By learning by doing, skill retention is high, and workplace productivity is increased.

The second presentation is on new tools that are being used to design and construct or retrofit buildings. Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows us to create a digital twin record of our facility information such as blueprints, emergency plans, plumbing, and electrical installations to store them digitally. 3D laser scanning or building thermal imaging surveys may save time, reduce rework, restore missing data and drawings, reduce liability, and minimize risk. Using these, one can scan any type of building and receive a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) rendering. 360-degree panoramic images are also available. These can be used to reverse engineer an existing building. Detailed mapping is achieved in every location within a building using the latest 3D scanning techniques, drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), terrestrial scanners, and digital photogrammetry.

Later, you are notified via a text message that the predictive maintenance system has identified that a part will need to be replaced based on the mean time between failure calculations. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) uses historical data to calculate the average time between component and system breakdowns. MTBF is considered a critical tool in the maintenance program to measure performance, safety, and equipment design. The text notification indicated that the parts were ordered and the auto-scheduler was scheduling the installation time and maintenance engineer.

Predictive maintenance technologies are designed to identify potential maintenance issues before they become a problem. With the rise of smart sensors and IoT, these sensors make maintenance smarter, cheaper, and more efficient. These sensors are installed on or near radiators, boilers, pumps, and other machinery. They detect critical levels of noise, vibration levels, leaks, or changes in temperature, and when a certain threshold is achieved, our smart system automatically orders the part and schedules the repair before the issue escalates into a system failure.

Our Smart Building Asset Management program tracks, manages, monitors, and plans our IT assets for all our buildings. We collect the correct information associated with each asset and then assign and collect asset information by property to manage, track, evaluate, and assign costs appropriately. Vendors are assigned to the assets to capture support detail information for easy and efficient vendor support. Cost information is assigned for cost tracking and allocation and to assist us in making information-based decisions regarding our building’s assets. IoT sensors are placed in or on each asset to provide real-time positioning, location, and tracking.

Tenant applications

Your final appointment for the day involves onboarding your newest tenant to the building. Each tenant is provided with our smart building Tenant Mobile Application (TMA), which is designed to give the tenant more control over their environment. The app also will digitalize our tenant-facing services, transactions, and work orders, to enhance the overall Quality of Experience (QoE) for the building’s occupants with numerous amenity services.

From this smart building app, your building occupants can manage tenant services such as submitting and tracking their tenant request work orders, along with receiving cost options and estimates if required. Tenants directly control temperature and lighting along with other comfort settings, eliminating costly building engineer work orders for these. They can check space availability and make reservations for conference rooms, desks, and common-use areas. They can see real-time space occupancy and trend space utilization rates. They may pay their lease rent and fees via the app, and they have access to historical payment information. Incident management and insurance information are also part of the tenant services app.

The smart building app delivers real-time access to the building’s amenities and concierge services. Parking, EV charger availability, bike parking, and storage locker information are available. Using occupancy sensors, the app provides real-time access to the wellness center, yoga studio, and workout facility information to assist tenants in scheduling their workouts. Information regarding public transportation, ride-share services, taxis, and limo services for the building provide direct app access along with pick-up and drop-off location information with IoT cameras for real-time checks.

Food, beverage, and entertainment access coupled with any in-building retail and other amenity marketplace access and information are included along with the building and local community event calendars. Customized apps have been developed for many of our tenants with documents such as human resource manuals, safety manuals, training guides, and surveys. A gamification app was even developed for a high-tech tenant.

In your residential buildings, your renters prefer smart apartments, which make their lives easier, more convenient, and more fun. These smart apartment amenities help tenants automate routine tasks, save money, and to find time to do other things they prefer to be doing. A long list of smart apartment amenities includes smart locks, smart thermostats, smart lighting, a single residential mobile app, Wi-Fi-as-a-service, smart access control, voice control, smart security systems, instant messaging, community events, ridesharing pick-up/drop-off locations, automated package management, in-unit package drop-off, bike sharing, automated maintenance requests, smart appliances, and instant payments. Smart apartment amenities are gaining popularity and there is no end in sight.

In a post-pandemic environment, commercial office buildings, factories, hospitals, and many other building types are making adaptations that work well for social distancing needs. Wide-open floor plans and the ability to scale, move, and function with less physical touch are the new normal. Your smart building includes smart access systems and smart elevators as mentioned earlier. Your updated restrooms include IoT touch-free sinks, paper towel dispensers, and toilets, which also alert building maintenance when soap, toilet paper, and paper towels are running low. Your HVAC filters have been upgraded to hospital-grade ones with built-in IoT sensors that notify you when they need to be replaced. Air and surface disinfectants are designed to mitigate germs and are monitored with IoT sensors.

Your day in the smart building is coming to its conclusion. Your electric car is fully charged, and you have ordered a take-out dinner from the restaurant on the first floor. You are waiting for the delivery robot to meet you in the lobby with your dry cleaning and you have called the elevator from your smart app. As you leave the office, the lights and music are turned off, and the temperature is adjusted to help lower your energy costs.

Hopefully, this hypothetical example of a day in a smart building has begun to highlight the many different aspects and components that can be combined to build your smart building. There is no magical number of components, applications, or amount of data that is collected that constitutes crossing over into the officially a smart building category, but recent industry collaborations are beginning to provide assessment criteria to determine just how smart your building might be and what steps might be required to move to the next level.

Another highlight from your day in the smart building example is that no two buildings will be the same (unless intentionally built as duplicates). While it is obviously easier to build a smart building with a new construction, cost considerations may value-engineer many desired features out. Since most buildings are in the built environment, retrofits and upgrades that contain IoT devices and sensors will be the typical method for transitioning to a smart building. With one target area IoT project or many IoT projects, you’ll be on your way to building your smart building.

Smart building definition

This leads us to the definition of a smart building. Ask many people and you will receive many answers, as there is not a clear definition:

  • According to Paul Wellener et al., at Deloitte Insights, “Smart buildings are digitally connected structures that combine optimized building and operational automation with intelligent space management to enhance the user experience, increase productivity, reduce costs, and mitigate physical and cybersecurity risks.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) defines a smart building as “all building systems are fully integrated and sharing data, so they be managed through a single pane of glass with minimal human intervention.
  • Ernst & Young Global Ltd. (EY Group) states "a smart building can be thought of as an ecosystem, a dynamic entity with many devices of varying age that 'talk to' and depend on one another, sharing data and responding to various needs. Key to this complex interaction of software and hardware is the human element, the overriding “voice,” if you will, of guidance and direction that points all other systems toward those goals".

Throughout this book, we will use the following definition: "A smart building uses an integrated set of technology, systems, and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience".

Types of smart buildings

Throughout this book, we will refer to smart buildings, meaning any type of building. Each building type can implement some or all of the smart solutions we cover throughout the book; however, in this list, we have indicated some focused applications for building types based on their primary function.

Building Category

Building Examples

Focused Smart Building Applications

Agricultural buildings

Barns, greenhouses, silos, coops

Temperature, humidity, lighting

Commercial buildings

Multistory with at least 50% used for commercial activities such as restaurants, retail, shops

HVAC, energy, occupancy, asset tracking

Data centers

Standalone and mixed-use data centers

Temperature, humidity, security


Universities, schools, colleges, daycare, technical

Air quality, occupancy, access, security

Event buildings

Stadiums, arenas, theaters, auditoriums, conference centers,

Occupancy, safety, security systems

Government or civic buildings

Courts, post offices, tax offices, jails, admin buildings, museums, police and fire stations, military, community centers, libraries, and so on

Air quality, occupancy, access controls


Lodging, hotels, motels, resorts, historic inns, boutique hotels, B&Bs, cruise ships

Guest amenities, cleaning, security, energy

Industrial or manufacturing

Buildings for manufacturing, production, assembly, repairs, altering, renovating, ornamenting, power plants, water plants, and so on

Asset tracking, wayfinding, spills, leaks, preventative maintenance


Hospitals, medical offices, local ER shops, doctors’ offices, clinics

Navigation, patient tracking, wayfinding

Office buildings

One-story, multistory, campuses, mostly used for offices

HVAC, energy, air-quality systems, workflow

Owner occupied

Typically, a company owns and uses the building for its company’s needs

Employee workflow tools. Air quality

Residential / Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs)

Apartments, condominiums, townhomes, dormitories, MDUs, nursing homes

Access, security, safety systems, air quality

Recreational buildings

Fitness centers, bowling alleys, gyms, ice rinks, indoor swimming pools

Access, security, safety, cleaning


Churches, temples, synagogues, temples, mosques, cathedrals, monasteries

Access, security, safety, air quality


Stores, malls, shops, big-box stores, grocery stores

Occupancy, security, asset tracking


Airports, train stations, bus terminals, subway stations, ferry stations, others

Occupancy, security, safety systems


Private, public, climate-controlled, distribution centers, storage

Asset tracking, wayfinding

Table 1.1 – Types of smart buildings and their applications