Smart Buildings, Smart Boards If Phones Can be Smart, Why Not Buildings?

 If phones can be “smart,” why not buildings? With the ever-expanding array of consumer technology  available today, it should come as no surprise that residential buildings are  able to incorporate more and more cutting-edge technology into their  communications, security, and operations systems than ever before, and to unify  building operating systems so they can be monitored and run from a central  location by a building staff member, or by residents themselves with  smartphones and iPads.  

 Many of these innovative systems are being installed from square one in new  construction but also in the form of upgrades and retrofits in older buildings.  Let’s take a look at the state of the industry.  

 When considering smart buildings, the key word is integration. But what does  that mean exactly?  

 “Integration in general is a very broad term, which can be used to describe  systems that are (a) just minimally aware of each other—and even systems that are aware of each other only as a result of manual effort,” says Jerry Kestenbaum, the president of BuildingLink, a Long Island City,  N.Y.-based company that puts co-op and condo buildings online and gives  residents access to all kinds of information, “or are (b) fully aware and communicating bi-directionally and in a way that  enhances each system’s ability to behave better and smarter. In any building at all, system  integration makes the mechanical, electrical and energy operations of a  building flow more smoothly and efficiently.”  

 Behind the Curve

 Generally speaking, commercial buildings are more likely to be state-of-the-art  with respect to systems integration, while residential buildings tend to be  behind the curve—in fact, “way behind,” says Allan Samuels, a principal at Energy Squared, LLC, an engineering  consultant in North Brunswick. Multi-family buildings, co-ops and condos are “lagging behind terribly,” he says, although the technologies involved have the capacity to save money,  save energy, and even avert maintenance headaches.  

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