The integration of technology is revolutionizing the way buildings are designed, operated and experienced. One of the fundamental aspects of technology in commercial real estate is the concept of smart buildings. These cutting-edge structures are equipped with advanced sensors, automation systems and data analytics capabilities that enable the optimization of energy consumption, security and maintenance.
At the 2023 BOMA International Conference & Expo in Kansas City, Missouri, it was obvious from a walkthrough of the trade show floor that a growing number of companies are offering solutions to owners and managers to help them integrate smart technology into their buildings. Several exhibitors spoke with BUILDINGS to discuss why this trend toward smart buildings is so important and how their solutions can help make the transition to a more connected future.
Getting a Competitive Edge with Cohesion
Cohesion is a vertically integrated smart building SaaS platform leading the way to autonomous buildings. The company’s technology leverages comprehensive, real-time data to give forward-thinking owners and operators insights they need to increase asset value by creating a sustainable, healthy and operationally efficient building. Ultimately, enhancing the tenant experience and improving the bottom line.
Taylor Marsh, VP of sales for Cohesion, pointed out that tenants are looking for technology enabled solutions, and differentiated experience in buildings that can provide owners with a competitive advantage.
“On the top line, we’re seeing that—especially in office—there has never been a more competitive marketplace. Every building is competing for the same tenants that may be reducing their footprints, so everybody is looking to differentiate,” he said.
“On the bottom-line side, though, everybody’s doing more with less,” Marsh continued. “I don’t see anybody’s staffing models increasing, right? So, having remote tools and digital tools to let fewer people manage similar footprints is something all of our customers are interested in doing, and that comes with smart controls, that comes with digital operations and toolkits, which is something that Cohesion helps our customers with.”
Real-time Detection with Alert Labs
“Technology going into commercial buildings right now provides visibility to buildings in real time,” said Jordan Edl, director of business development for Albert Labs. “The reality is, if anything in the last couple of years has taught the industry is, you know, with COVID and everything else being not able to access areas and not having full occupancy is, you’re not going to have the same visibility to what’s going on in the facility. So, technology allows them to have that extra set of eyes in real time with what’s going on.”
Alert Labs delivers water and A/C intelligence solutions with the AlertAQ platform and IoT sensors that are designed and built in North America. From commercial water leak detection to A/C system performance to water use monitoring, measurement and reporting—Alert Labs’ mission is to help companies protect assets, lower operating costs and increase sustainability for every property across their portfolio.
“With respect to what we do with water management and leak detection, it’s all about response time to having critical events taking place and infrastructure being damaged,” Edl explained. “The goal is that you’re notified within 10 seconds of an event happening when it comes to water-related instances and the key is that you can get to those issues much faster, for sure.”
Edl added that it can be difficult for property managers and owners with properties across the country to gather aggregated data and consistency in information, which Albert Labs provides for its customers for reporting purposes.
Better Security with Montgomery Technologies
Every day, commercial buildings are being hacked through their building system networks. Montgomery Technologies’ Intelligent Riser software protects against cyberattacks by securing the networks that run the building systems. It is a smart building platform that employs enterprise-class network security across all building systems. The systems are then monitored 24/7/365 to ensure they are secure, up and running.
“Everything with an IP address in the building is obviously connected to the Internet that would give them the ability to talk to one another if they’re on the same network,” said Michael Cenni, building technology manager for Montgomery Technologies. “We install one converged network for the building and all the systems, all the OT systems, would be connected to that network, and, therefore, they would have that interoperability to be able to communicate with each other. That’s how we can set up these smarter spaces and smarter buildings.”
Cenni noted that the company’s solutions work on the front lines of cybersecurity and feature redundancy within the firewalls to offer multiple lines of defense while networks are being updated on a regular basis.
Aggregating Data with Brightly Software
Brightly, a Siemens company, is a leader in intelligent asset management solutions, driven by an understanding that smarter assets drive more sustainable communities. Brightly pairs its complete suite of intuitive software—including CMMS, EAM, Strategic Asset Management, IoT Remote Monitoring, Sustainability and Community Engagement—with tailored consultancies and comprehensive support services to pave the way for a more efficient and sustainable future.
“Gone are the days of really just paying the bill and walking away,” said Adam Blaser, senior account executive for Brightly Software. He notes that there’s increased scrutiny with the increased cost of utilities in commercial real estate and that owners and managers are beginning to pay much more attention to it.
“So, being able to have—whether it be technology that that digs into a building itself to find the waste and the inconsistencies, or something that’s overlaying on top of a large portfolio—having access to that data and understanding the why is becoming much more important in that world,” he said.
Dan Arant, manager of North America Sales for Brightly Software, added, “What we do is act like a data aggregator for your building systems.” With the volume of information being collected from technology enabled buildings today, including billing, building automation, maintenance and tenant data, Arant said it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. What Brightly does is “help bring that [data] together in one place and look for trends in terms of where waste is happening in the building,” he added.
Smart building technology is here—the question is, how will you leverage these types of solutions to make your building portfolio smarter than ever?