January 2014

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Being ‘Smart’ Will Bring Smart Building Success

The critical success factors can be different for each building or stakeholder involved in the project.

William Rhodes

William Rhodes, Research Manager,
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IHS Technology

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When looking to conduct a smart building project, it is important to be ‘smart’ and define what the critical success factors of the project will be as early as possible. This will shape the project and activities of the stakeholders involved to ensure the project is successful.

The critical success factors can be different for each building or stakeholder involved in the project. Some stakeholders have operational issues and wish to quickly get an overview of what is happening in their buildings. Others have spiralling energy costs and want to demonstrate and deliver savings.

In 2013, research firm IHS interviewed over 50 individual stakeholders representing: building and portfolio owners, facility managers, CEOs, security managers, sustainability officers, architects, consultants, integrators and others. The aim was to establish amongst other factors what the critical success factors for smart building projects are.

Four key areas stood out as the key critical success factors:

Energy Savings and Fault Detection

Energy savings driven from operational efficiencies or fault detection is a key success factor driving the installation of a smart building system. Savings support the bottom line, provide a great story to tell shareholders and employees alike, and ensures future spend is prioritised. One Director of Facilities suggested:

“A $4 faulty sensor can cost $400,000 of unnecessary cooling every year.”

Measuring Success

Unfortunately, in this industry there are a lot of soft cost projections from which CFOs and others have to make key decisions. Therefore, it is important with any smart building project to measure its success. Energy is easy to quantify but stakeholders must agree on how to measure the intangible benefits from the projects. One Sustainability Manger noted:

“One aim was to get LEED-certified because we wanted to compare the forecast savings with the actual savings.”

Integration, Information and Visibility

Capturing the information from all the different systems in a building by breaking down the data siloes is key to a successful smart building project. One CIO commented:

“The ultimate aim of the solution was to get a ‘single pane of glass’. Once we had this, it was a game changer.”

contemporary Comfort and Safety

The final critical success factor is the hardest to define and measure. However, it is still seen by many as key to the successful implementation of a smart building project. How do you know when the occupants are feeling comfortable and safe? One Security Manager remarked:

“Improved safety is really hard to track… But, if you don’t improve the [physical] security, the occupants can feel unsafe and they are not as productive.”

Will Rhodes, Research Manager at IHS, will be elaborating on the critical success factors outlined above and other factors impacting the smart building market during his presentation at AHR in New York on the 21st January. Please click here for more details.


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