Smart Buildings – not only intelligent but also green

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From London to Taipei, smart cities around the globe are built one smart, energy-efficient building at a time, using leading-edge technology to conserve energy and resources and to create exceptional spaces for their inhabitants.

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Smart Buildings – not only intelligent but also green
Whether it’s a retrofit of an existing building or a new development project, we’re seeing a growing focus on integrating leading-edge technologies to support energy and sustainability goals. But what exactly does a smart building need to do in order to be not only intelligent but also green?

Renewable energy
Smart buildings tend to be more self-sufficient than their older counterparts. For example, completed in 2014, Deloitte’s corporate headquarters, The Edge, in Amsterdam, generates its own solar energy with south-facing solar panels and rooftop arrays. It produces more energy than it consumes. The environmental ratings agency BREEAM gave The Edge a score of 98.4 percent, the highest sustainability score ever. Elsewhere the 128-story Shanghai Tower in China uses wind power from 200 onsite turbines, placed at the top of the tower, for outer lighting and parking areas. The turbines generate around 10 percent of the building’s electricity. Meanwhile, the Bullitt Center in Seattle is swathed in solar panels that produce all the electricity it needs and more – despite Seattle’s notoriously grey skies.

Smart controls increase efficiency using real-time data
The contenders for the title of the world’s smartest building all boast smart controls with sensors monitoring real-time conditions throughout the building. For example, the “smartest building in Chicago”, located at 311 South Wacker, was an exemplary energy efficiency retrofit project. Outdated thermostats were replaced with wireless ones connected to a cloud-based intelligent building system that can manage the conditions remotely. This system allows sophisticated algorithms to utilize real time data to make operational energy saving decisions. An example closer to home, built atop London’s Charing Cross Station, One Embankment Place boasts a comprehensive metering and monitoring system that’s available for interactive screening in the reception.

Energy efficiency as the basis of success
No matter how much renewable energy the building produces, the real tried-and-tested way towards net zero energy consumption is energy efficiency. Efficiency comes in various forms: Chifley Tower in Sydney installed a new central chilled water plant, introduced zones to give occupants choice over air conditioning, and changed light fittings, which together led to a 55 percent drop in the building’s energy use. When the weather conditions are rough, as they are in Winnipeg, efficiency is even more crucial. Manitoba Hydro Place, hailed as Canada’s most important building, is estimated to use 60 to 70 percent less energy than other similarly sized buildings, thanks to its energy-saving systems: it has a double-skin façade complete with computer-controlled vents and triple-glazed windows, while a geothermal heat pump system serves most of the heating and all of the cooling requirements.

Looking forward
As real estate adapts to the challenge of increasing energy costs, global climate change, and technical obsolescence, forward-looking owners and developers will pursue solutions that combine leading-edge technology with energy conservation. Ultimately, technology will lead the charge on reducing energy use, fighting climate change and creating better workplaces. It’s time to wise up to the potential of smart buildings.

This article was first published on JLL Real Views, JLL’s global site providing expert insights on the trends and developments shaping real estate.

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