Framework for Designing the Intelligent Building

Intelligent buildings are no turnkey matter. They take a deeper understanding of client’s goals and objectives for what is desired and discipline to implement through a collaborative design and construction process.

A truly intelligent building can mean many different things depending on the client’s needs. Designing building intelligence is about defining what success means, planning what will be allocated to make it happen and allowing for room to make it happenespecially because we dont often have consistency of the same team or available technology. Building owners and operators recognize that buildings are becoming more intelligent and the way they manage facilities is changing. At the same time, occupants expectations of how they interact with built environment are changing. The way we collaborate, design, specify, buy and construct buildings must change as well.  

Data and information must be meaningfully collected and transformed to provide actionable insight for decisions.

There is no industry standard scale for classifying a building as intelligent. Buildings that implement automation between building systems or that use data analytics for generating insights and automating processes are commonly accepted as operating at some level of intelligence. Intelligent buildings can be dynamic, adaptive environments that optimize occupant comfort and well-being, energy efficiency and operating efficiency.

Owners and operators understand that buildings are capable of offering greater insight into how to they operate buildings to streamline the facilities management workflow, optimize energy efficiency and improve the occupant experience. They also recognize that they must take action to achieve results. But in the rapidly evolving marketplace, it can be a daunting task to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve desired goals in a fiscally responsible manner. In many cases, significant capital investment has already been made in systems and equipment and theres a desire to enhance the utility of the tools that are already in place. 

Clients look to their consultants as their trusted partners to provide guidance on what their expectations should be for their new construction or renovation projects. Many are seeking flexible and scalable solutions that will meet current needs and adapt to future demands that are often unknown at the time of design and construction.  

Many clients interested in adopting intelligent building technologies are aware that they can benefit from integrated automaton and intelligent data analytics, but they understand that there are capabilities they havent even considered and they are seeking a partner to help guide their education and decision—making process. Its up to the architectureengineering and construction community to familiarize owners with both the capabilities and limitations of new technologies to meet the needs of their business and avoid adapting flavor of the day short-term solutions or point to solutions that only solve a single problem.

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Brad Kult co-wrote this article with Neil Osten, PE, LEED AP, of Mortenson for Consulting-Specifying Engineer.

To read the full article, visit “Framework for Designing the Intelligent Building” and accompanying “Case Study: Hospital Integrates All Stakeholders” in Consulting-Specifying Engineer.