A roof (over your head): this is the dictionary synonym for a building. “But a smart building goes far beyond that; we need to think of it as a multi-service platform for space, for work, for health, for mobility and so on”, summed up Emmanuel François, Chair of the Smart Building Alliance (SBA), which brings together 460 players in the building and smart city sectors. “Not to be confused with home automation systems”.
The scope is more ambitious: optimise the relationship between the users of a building, their health and safety and, more prosaically, energy usage, the occupation of the premises and their costs. This has consequences for the property sector: construction is no longer seen as a passive product, but as a living, evolving product with new capacities and a new, intangible value.
SIMPLIFIED USE OF THE BUILDING
In practical terms, how does a smart building work? “All building equipment (security portal, lifts, lights, air conditioning, heaters, blinds, sensors, etc.) provide information on their respective use or operation. Sensors can provide information on air quality, luminosity, noise, occupancy rates, visitor flows, etc. The equipment must be open and interoperable so that data can be easily exchanged and information sent to a central system (the Building Operating System or BOS),” explained Fabrice Poline, strategic marketing manager for Bouygues Construction. “This platform will connect all the building’s components so that they can communicate with one another and allow them to be managed intelligently in an automated and optimised way, using rules, self-learning and maybe even Artificial Intelligence.
The operating system will provide access to relevant information and offer services adapted to the various users of the building via, for example, a mobile application or web app, according to their status – visitors, office employees or maintenance team members, according to their access rights to certain areas (access to the car park, the building, the company restaurant, auditorium, gym, etc.), for simplified use of the building.
This new approach to building management and services is already being deployed, through various technologies, in a large number of buildings around the world, mainly in new or extensively refurbished buildings. ”
For example, if you go to Microsoft’s headquarters in Amsterdam, The Outlook, you will be guided by an app to the most suitable parking space and then to your meeting room; if you have not booked anything, the app will show you the most suitable workspace.
“We identified two different flows of people in our building: employees and visitors,” explained Chris Nouveau, Digital Advisor at Microsoft Services. “We use smart technology to facilitate both flows, from the moment people leave to come here and park, to be able to work comfortably, but also to easily organise a meeting, until they leave the site.
This management of different flows, through technology, is particularly useful in hospitals. In Toronto, the Humber River Hospital (722 beds) and the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital (367 beds) are equipped by Plan Group, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, with a solution designed to bring these huge hospitals down to a human scale. Like in an airport, check-in kiosks eliminate long queues; interactive maps guide patients and their families to their appointments. A real-time location system allows medical staff to know where a patient or staff member is. The occupation of the consultation rooms is optimised, the distribution of medicines is automated, as is the analysis of samples in the laboratory.