Make the Case for Smart Building Technology

Jan. 22, 2018

How offices, retail, hospitality and healthcare facilities can trim energy use.

Are you getting the most out of your smart building technologies? Using sophisticated tools to control and optimize building systems can unearth savings from a variety of sources, like dialing back HVAC, lighting and plug loads in vacant spaces or shutting off non-essential equipment after business hours. 

But not all buildings are extracting the maximum benefit from these technologies. A recent report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) investigates how four commercial sectors (office, retail, hospitality and health care) stand to benefit the most from adopting more smart technology.


Office buildings could attain a savings of roughly 18% on whole-building energy consumption just from installing smart technologies, the report posits. Because more employees are working remotely, office space is often partially occupied, so reducing HVAC and lighting in unoccupied workspaces and conference rooms can deliver considerable savings. 

Reducing plug loads can also save a substantial amount of energy. Offices stand to benefit the most from installing advanced power strips to control plug loads, as well as smart thermostats, advanced rooftop controls and energy management systems.


Customers rate lighting and temperature as important factors that affect their experience, so brick-and-mortar retail establishments would do well to invest in smart thermostats (which are generally low in cost) and smart lighting systems. Both can also deliver impressive energy savings – in fact, the average store can save 14% of its annual energy consumption by installing smart building technologies. 

Occupancy sensing technologies can deliver value beyond optimizing lighting and HVAC; they can also track where customers move in the store to aid analysis of shopping behavior.


The average hotel stands to save about 8% on its consumption, mostly from reducing HVAC in vacant rooms. Tie lighting and room conditioning to check-in to automate part of this process. 

Energy management and information systems will deliver the highest savings for hotels, according to the report.


Hospitals are one of the most energy-intensive building types, but smart technology can help trim energy consumption without negatively affecting patient health, the report notes. 

The average hospital could save 14% of its annual energy use with some strategic efficiency investments, with optimized HVAC controls and operations representing the biggest opportunity. Water heating and lighting also offer important opportunities for savings.

Ready to get the ball rolling on a smart technology retrofit? See detailed recommendations for all four building types in the full report, Smarter Buildings: A Deeper Dive into Market Segments, at

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