What is a smart building?

23 October 2023

I am diagram junkie and sucker for a cutaway diagram that probably has something to do with the ones from the Eagle comic and Gerry Anderson TV Show annuals I enjoyed as a kid. Clearly, I was not alone given this Thunderbirds Agent’s Technical Manual from Haynes that appears aimed at those of my generation:

But I digress because this post is really about having seen a number of smart buildings cutaways that I could have posted. I chose this one from lighting control specialists Simmtronic for a number of reasons.

That includes being transparent about having helped curate and moderate a ‘summer series’ of events to celebrate their 30th anniversary this year (see here, here and here). And their commercial director Jess Costanzo also participated in a recent Why is Retrofit Not Taken More Seriously in the Climate Change Conversation? panel I moderated at the Smart Building Show in October.

However, the reason I have chosen this one is because it answers the question they pose about ‘what is smart building’ in part from their perspective as lighting control specialists. And highlighting perspectives from different stakeholders is part of the purpose of this blog because as mentioned in an article I co-wrote earlier this year:

The emphasis now for Smart Building realisation is to adopt a top down approach where the needs of building occupants is the starting point. Their requirements and expectations have placed ever increasing challenges on work space designers and technology providers. It follows that there are now many more stakeholders involved and the whole journey to Smart has become much more complex as a result. That creates an emerging disconnect around communication and understanding between some of the many parties involved in the whole process.

Smart Buildings Magazine: Retrofitting buildings and the drive towards net zero (15th May, 2023)

And, so, exploring those differ perspectives could feed into helping create a common understanding between all stakeholders.

That article was about retrofitting, which is the other reason for highlighting the Simmtronic diagram because it shows that lighting could be seen a part of the technology infrastructure spine that runs throughout a building. And that allows other technology vendors and platform providers to piggy back off what is already there in existing buildings to power sensors, get data and more.

There’s a sustainability angle here too because that technology can in many instances still be connected to and communicated with despite being 30 years old (as is happening on retrofitting projects that are Simmtronic are working on). Utilising that technology is therefore more sustainable than ripping it out to replace with something newer just because it is seen as the new black, e.g. by being Power Over Ethernet enabled.

That’s one for another post, as is asset registration highlighted in the section of their infographic I have zoomed in on above. In the meantime, here is the full infographic:

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