Smart building technology: is your brokerage ready to sell smart offices?

03.22.2017 | Buildout

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ABI Research predicts that revenue related to Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled smart building technology will grow to more than $8 billion by 2020. This is a huge jump from last year’s prediction of $625 million. According to the research firm, the bulk of that money will go to smart lighting and “intuitive” heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control systems.

Smart building technology combines artificial intelligence and connectivity through the IoT to increase productivity and efficiency. In offices, this technology will improve security and overall work experience.

Here’s what to expect from smart office technology and how it will impact your brokerage’s business.

Smart building technology improves office security and safety

In some offices, certain departments may need to be off-limits to people who do not have a security clearance or specific title. When smart building technology becomes more pervasive, these limits will be easy for all companies to set.

Smart offices will use external sensors and cameras to deny access to those who shouldn’t be in a space while making entry seamless for those who should. Facial recognition is the fastest way to accomplish this, and large companies with high levels of concern about security are already equipping their buildings with these capabilities. However, this technology will soon become affordable and accessible enough that even small companies will begin to demand it.

But that’s not the only way smart building technology will improve office safety and security. Climate change is driving an increase in the frequency of tornados, hurricanes, blizzards and other natural disasters, and preparedness for these weather events is vital. Fortunately, IoT technology will soon be able to help. External sensors can already detect oncoming weather problems, and eventually they’ll be able to automatically deploy defense mechanisms like window protections and flood guards to prevent damage.

Smart building technology improves the office work experience

In the coming years, most of the IoT technology in office buildings will focus on adapting work environments to accommodate each employee’s specific preferences and improve energy efficiency. Everything about the office environment will be optimized to improve the experience of being at work.

Soon, employees will be able to personally control the temperature and lighting around their desk, cube, or pod. They’ll also be able to determine what level of office noise they want to hear or drown out their surrounding co-workers entirely through music, nature sounds or white noise.

And with smart lighting sensors, depending on the time of day and worker preferences, office lighting in common spaces will automatically dim and brighten to optimize the work experience and ensure energy is never in use where no one is actually present. “Intuitive” HVAC systems will also automatically adjust temperatures in common spaces like conference rooms based on the time of day, how many people are in the room and the combined preferences of those parties.

Smart building technology’s impact on CRE

As smart building technology evolves, office buyer, investor and tenant standards will change. They’ll soon start looking for office buildings equipped with technology that improves security and the overall work experience, and your brokerage will need to be able to deliver.

Additionally, as smart building technology becomes more prevalent, buyers and investors will need to learn how to demonstrate its immediate value for tenants and users, and you can help them. For example, if a building owner is planning to raise rent to pay for a new energy efficiency technology like an “intuitive” HVAC system, tenants will want to be sure they’ll see a drop in their electricity bills. As a CRE broker or marketer, you should remind your clients to connect those dots for their tenants both before and after they make an investment.

It’s also crucial to be a strategic guide to your clients when it comes to investing in new smart office technology. The life cycle of a building is far longer than that of most new technology developments, so encourage your clients to find the right balance between innovation and smart investments.

To learn more about smart technologies, read our blog on how predictive technology is enhancing the retail experience.