An “intelligent” building, or smart building, has to fulfil a set of special characteristics which clearly distinguish them from those of traditional building.

Dominant technologies in intelligent buildings

  • Access control. Access control in these buildings enables to improve security and increases the people flow entering them, nonetheless such measures are not reduced to such benefits, since they also mark out different areas, vehicle entrances are controlled and radiofrequency is used to be acquainted with the employees’ location.
  • Accessibility. Besides access control, intelligent buildings are compelled to guarantee universal accessibility, which is why being equipped with automatic doors, lifts or ramps, becomes essential if one aims to help people with reduced mobility or any other physical impediments such as people partially sighted or with hearing impairments, so that they may interact with the facilities without incident.
  • By combining smart building automation and data gathering, these buildings can save high amounts of energy, besides increasing significantly safety for employees, users and security for the facilities themselves. These buildings collect information from the video surveillance systems, access controls and from fire detection and alarm systems amongst others, gathering together all data in one single system, with which we have at disposal information in real time much more accurately than with systems known until now, thus reducing action and evacuation times if necessary.
  • Connectivity. It is with no doubt one of the most important requirements and differentiating attributes of smart buildings since it enables the conjunction of people and the building information system, as well as its own environment. By the agency of data extracted by the different sensors the building has, it adapts to outside weather and light conditions, thus increasing comfort within the facilities and achieving higher energy conservation.
  • Sustainability. Sustainability or eco-efficiency is a natural part of intelligent buildings. Smart buildings are erected with natural or recycled materials, such as wood or glass, which is to say, materials that once the building life cycle has reached its end, can be recycled or reused, having to invest the minimum amount of energy when building it, as much as when it must be demolished.
  • Energy conservation is also an important part of sustainability. Along with the use of renewable energies such as geothermal, hydraulic, solar or wind power, it is possible to reduce to a great degree the use of conventional energies, which generate emissions damaging to the environment and atmosphere.

Examples of intelligent buildings

  1. One of the smartest office buildings in the world, The Edge in Amsterdam (Holland), has one of the most original systems aimed to recognise the employees’ vehicles, by even indicating free parking spaces that are available, besides making the task easier to those being in possession of an electric vehicle. Another benefit of this smart building is due to a sophisticated mobile application which knows users’ preferences, adapting temperature and light conditions so that employees are able to work as comfortable as possible.
  2. The Crystal, England. This building was erected by Siemens, and amongst its main features, it is most noteworthy that it consumes 45% less energy than any other conventional building and it adds 65% less CO2 to the atmosphere. This building, besides harvesting and reusing 100% of rain water, heats its facilities due to the fact that two-thirds of the building are covered by solar panels which generate approximately 20% of the total energy The Crystal needs to use to be self-sufficient.
  3. Leadenhall. Located in London, this smart building has windows glazed with three layers of glass and interior shutters which vary according to the outdoor temperature and the sun direction. The interior of the building has close to 300 energy information systems, intelligent lifts and natural ventilation, amongst others, which increases comfort and convenience for all its users.
  4. Siemens headquarters. United Arab Emirates. This building, of which the inauguration will take place in 2020 in Abu Dhabi, was erected under the LEED Platinum Certified standards and has an aluminium coating system which dispels sunlight and therefore, indoor space temperature. It is also expected that it will save 63% of energy and 25% of water.
  5. Al Bahr Towers. United Arab Emirates. Its facade is totally controlled by computing systems, varying according to the sun direction. Thanks to solar panels installed on each tower southern coating, they obtain a high amount of the energy they need for their daily activity.