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Building Intelligence, the internet of things, machine to machine – these concepts of making our buildings smarter and providing the ability to save money and drive shareholder value is sweeping not only the nation, but the world.  This topic is flooding the news channels and Real Estate industry events in large volumes.  But when you stop and think about it, what exactly does it mean to have a smart building?

In commercial real estate (landlords) costs savings aren’t a driver for building intelligence because these companies recover their costs from tenants.  For corporate real estate portfolios (tenants) the argument for cost savings is certainly there, but do they really control this, or does their landlord manage the energy usage and building maintenance?  I believe that the answer is the same for both commercial and corporate real estate portfolios; building intelligence will drive shareholder value by lowering costs and creating more efficient reliable buildings.  Lower energy costs will attract better long term tenants driving revenue and reducing carbon footprint, creating consumer goodwill for the building and the tenant both. 

What about the value to be gained through machine to machine technology “the internet of things?”  Will Building Intelligence information really allow us to predict when a piece of equipment is going to fail?  If our equipment can communicate better and we can understand it better, I believe it will lead to effective predictive maintenance and fixing equipment before it breaks.  This also feeds the lower energy costs because the equipment is running more efficiently. 

The biggest question facing Real Estate Landlords and Tenants is “How do we manage this information and where will it provide value?”  While there are a lot of companies out there that have a vision around this topic and some are executing it to some degree, I think the answer remains to be uncovered to a large degree.  SAP is hosting a Building Intelligence Seminar in Philadelphia, June 26 to have industry leaders from Building Controls, Construction, Building Owners and tenants for an open discussion on this topic.  Not only around what it means, but around what to do we do about it.    What do you think are the top three benefits of intelligent buildings?