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Top 10 Smart Building Myths

Paul Nastu

Smart buildingsProperty owners may understand the benefits of smart buildings, but often have misconceptions that they are a lot more expensive, are the same as green buildings, or that only new buildings can become smart and industrial facilities can not be made smart buildings. Jones Lang LaSalle’s smart building experts debunk these myths in an effort to explain that their benefits far outweigh their costs and smart buildings are applicable across all categories of buildings.

They list the top 10 myths surrounding smart buildings and clarify what is ground reality.

Myth #10: Smart building technologies are expensive — Not true, says JLL, since owners typically recoup investments within one or two years by achieving energy savings and other operational efficiencies.

Myth #9: Smart buildings are only about energy — Besides energy savings, smart building management systems can also detect when a piece of equipment is close to failure and alert facilities personnel to fix the problem. This can help extend machinery life and lower facility staff, operations and replacement costs, says JLL.  The systems can prevent full-scale building system failures—which JLL points, may be potentially embarrassing for a Superbowl stadium host, but will be life-threatening in a hospital or laboratory.

Myth #8: Smart buildings and green buildings are the same thing —While they may overlap in terms of some features, they’re actually different. Smart buildings maximize energy efficiency and ensure air quality, while a complete sustainability program includes strategies beyond building automation systems.

Myth #7: Industrial facilities or laboratories can’t become smart buildings — They can be built or retrofitted to become highly automated and smart, says JLL.

Myth #6: Smart buildings can only be new buildings — In actuality, some of the smartest buildings in the world are not new, but have demonstrated a return on investment in smart technologies. JLL cites the example of the Empire State Building, which has exceeded projected energy savings for the second consecutive year following an extensive phased retrofit that began in 2009.

Myth #5: Smart building technologies are not interoperable — It may have been the case in the past, when building automation equipment and controls were designed as proprietary systems. But today, with affordable technologies like wireless sensors, it’s possible to gather data from different systems produced by any manufacturer, says JLL.

Myth #4: Smart systems don’t make a building more attractive to tenants — Not true, says JLL. Anything that improves energy efficiency, reduces occupancy cost and boosts productivity is valuable to tenants. Tenants and their advisers increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned heating, ventilation and air conditioning, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems and advanced security systems.

Myth #3: Without a municipal smart grid, a building can’t really be smart —  It’s true that smart buildings get better functionality when supported by advanced electrical grids, but even without a smart grid, owners and investors can draw a wide range of benefits from smart buildings and a management system that can monitor entire property portfolios, according to JLL.

Myth #2: Smart buildings are complicated to operate  — In contrast to this widely held perception, when paired with a smart building management system, a smart building is often easier to operate and maintain than a building that lacks automated systems, since it can integrate work-order management applications,  incorporate equipment repair and maintenance data into performance analytics and pinpoint equipment issues to a degree not humanly possible.

Myth #1: Smart buildings are a no-brainer — This is not a myth, but very true says JLL.  As affordable new technologies are adopted, tenants are beginning to expect smart building features and owners and investors are beginning to see a return on investment.

To achieve a low carbon economy, an optimal solution would be to combine smart buildings with a smart grid, says Energy Manager Today columnist Jim McHale, in a post earlier this month. Carbon emissions can be reduced by interfacing smart buildings with the present “smart grid” and providing demand response and distributed energy capability through a combination of advanced buildings energy management systems (BEMS) and enterprise energy management systems (EEM), says McHale.



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