Certification sets out ‘intellectual’ framework for smart buildings

Sheila Zabeu -

May 10, 2021

A kind of building IQ is what the North American company WiredScore launched, aiming to establish a standard for the term “smart” among buildings that use IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and devices.

It was clear to WiredScore that ‘smart’ was a blurry term when it comes to buildings and that there is little consensus on what is important to ensure such intelligence. So SmartScore was developed by a council that collaboratively created an ‘intellectual’ framework for smart buildings.

The new certification can serve as a foundation for the increasingly digital and booming construction sector – the smart buildings market is expected to reach the figure of $180.9 billion by 2025.

Source: Smart Buildings Market Report

SmartScore takes into account a user-centric, results-oriented approach that relies on digital technologies to exceed evolving expectations. The four outcomes considered for smart buildings are inspiring experiences, sustainability, value for money, and a design that can sustain over time (future proof).

The assessment of the intelligence of buildings will be done from a users’ perspective — that is, the functionalities that can help attract people and solve the obstacles faced by them — and from a technological perspective that will analyze the tools that are used to provide these functionalities.

According to WiredScore, the technology foundation of smart buildings can be divided into six main categories:

  1. Digital connectivity: Secure, reliable, and dedicated connections available for users and systems.
  2. Systems: Hardware and software to control buildings (e.g. heating and lighting systems) and provide many of the intelligent features.
  3. Integration network: Network that runs through the building and connects the systems to which occupants can integrate.
  4. Governance: Guidelines and methodologies behind the technologies used in the building, a roadmap for future improvements, performance metrics, and feedback loop.
  5. Cybersecurity: Policies, practices, and processes that ensure the security of the building’s systems and data.
  6. Data sharing: Building’s essential database and its legal, ethical, and practical aspects.

WiredScore launched its first certification for buildings in 2013 in New York City with the endorsement of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The company says it has certified more than 65 million square feet of commercial office space to date. Now, like the new certification, it is entering the smart buildings arena.

More than smart

Not only smart buildings are under the spotlight, but also so-called healthy buildings. This type of building – which the World Health Organization (WHO) defines as a space that promotes people’s physical, psychological and social health and well-being – has come into an even sharper focus with the effects of the pandemic. Workplaces are having to ensure that employees are safe and sound when they return to the office and feel comfortable performing their daily duties.

The investment market is already paying attention to this demand. A report entitled “A New Investor Consensus: The Rising Demand for Healthy Buildings“, which attracted global real estate investment managers and shareholders managing assets totaling US$5.75 trillion, predicts growing demand for assets that prioritize occupant health and wellbeing – in a survey that led to the report, 92% of respondents expect demand for healthy buildings to grow over the next three years.

Demand for healthy buildings has been growing over the past decade, according to the survey. There is increased investor awareness of the “importance of health and wellbeing to environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.”

However, the report highlights that only 53% of respondents incorporate health and wellness to any great extent into their ESG strategies, which opens up significant room for growth in healthy buildings.

On the other hand, the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab conducted a survey in 10 major cities in the United States to understand this scenario and identify the financial impact of healthy buildings on rent prices. The results showed that the rent of the square meter of healthy buildings was 4.4% to 7.7% more expensive compared to the amount charged by similar buildings without certification. With these figures, the researchers highlighted that there is a real advantage for landlords in investing in the health of their tenants.