Lis Christy / Stacey Vaeth Photography
Wanda Lau

Smarter together

March 17, 2022
Editorial director Wanda Lau pens her first editorial for Smart Buildings Technology's digital March 2022 issue.

As Smart Buildings Technology rounds out its first year with its fourth quarterly issue, I am excited to join its publisher as the editorial director of SBT (and its sister publication LEDs Magazine).

Prior to this position, I covered architecture and the design profession at Architect. Though I enjoyed the decadelong experience, I admit I have never been one easily impressed by polished renderings or idyllic photographs of just-completed projects. This cynicism stems from my pre-journalism days as an engineer who investigated—that is, tore apart—building details that appeared clean and functional, but were deteriorating and failing behind the cladding. Though water infiltration was almost always the cause, other factors frequently appeared as accomplices: mechanical controls gone rogue, drainage systems to nowhere, and regular building commissioning or maintenance deferred.

To me, a successful project works across all phases of its life cycle, from conception to occupancy and beyond. That is, the building is physically operating as desired, but its occupants and, furthermore, its surrounding community are also thriving.

Even with today’s advanced software and hardware products, buildings remain complex and expensive machines to design, construct, and operate. One word that commonly appears in successful project case studies—and moreover, projects that incorporate smart technologies—is integration: integrated design process, integrated project delivery, systems integration. And the sooner the integration happens in the building life cycle, the better.

But as I streamed the Department of Energy’s Solid-State Lighting Workshop, co-sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society and held Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, the use of advanced—much less integrated—control systems in building design and operations appears to be the exception and not the rule. “Integration, I think, is great,” said Michael Myer, a researcher at the Pacific National Northwest Laboratory. “We’re just not there as an industry on how to make sure that it’s happening all the time and consistently … .”

Buildings—and the people who design, construct, and operate them—are brimming with lessons accumulated long before and long after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Their stories will continue to be foundational to the stories that appear in SBT.

And, perhaps one day, instead of an engineer leaving a trail of destructive openings to track the source of a building failure, it will become commonplace for a smart and holistic building management system to ping an owner or facility manager of a specific problem and location. This transition is something I hope SBT will capture over time.

Most importantly, I hope you, our audience, will continue to send ideas, insights, and feedback to help shape the direction of Smart Buildings Technology.

For more news, projects, and profiles in the smart buildings ecosystem, subscribe to the SBT newsletter and follow us on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

About the Author

Wanda Lau | Editorial Director

Wanda Lau is the editorial director of Smart Buildings Technology, LEDs Magazine, and Architectural SSL. She is an award-winning editor, writer, and podcaster whose work appears in several publications, including Architectural Lighting and Architect, where she was most recently the executive editor. In 2021, she was named one of Folio: and AdMonsters' Top Women in Media, in the DEI Champions category. Along with working a decade in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, she holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Michigan State University, an S.M. in building technology from MIT, and an M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Security & Technology Month

Date: May 8, 15, 22, 29. 2024Time: 1:00 PM EDT / 12:00 PM CDT / 10:00 AM PDT / 5:00 PM GMTSponsors: Duration: 1 Hour each  Register Today!  Single sign...

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...