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4 Questions to Ask to Help Select Smart Building Technologies

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Whether for HVAC, lighting, or BAS, smart options abound these days. Here's how to narrow down your choices to makes sure you get what you need.

It seems that every week brings the release of a new smart device or system for buildings. Often, the benefit of the new technology is related to energy in order to reduce consumption, trim demand, or cut carbon emissions. Since HVAC and lighting systems are the biggest energy users in buildings, it’s no surprise that there is a wealth of smart technology promising gains in energy performance. 

The wide range of choices is both an opportunity and a challenge. With so many options on the market, you have a good shot at finding a product to address a specific need. In fact, there may well be a range of choices available, some targeted to a specific application, others with a more extensive set of features. That breadth of offerings is where the challenge comes in, especially because products may differ, not only in terms of features, but also on points like how they communicate, the extent to which they enable interoperability, and the cybersecurity methods they employ. 


In the face of so many options, narrowing the choices is an important first step. Focusing on four points may help.

  • Why do you need it? Begin with the end in mind. “Before you pick a solution, identify your objectives and the desired outcomes,” says Mo Fahim, practice leader, intelligent building technologies, Environmental Systems Design. “What are the use cases that you want to solve for? You don’t want a solution in search of a problem.”
  • Who will benefit? Smart technology should ultimately make life easier for people, whether the people in question are occupants, facility operating staff, facility management leadership, or senior executives. Each group has its own needs and how well the smart technology meets those demands may determine whether the project is a success.
  • What will it do? The choices range from software tools like automated fault detection and diagnostics, to smart pieces of equipment like valves and actuators, to entire systems. Although the range of options can be daunting, it’s worthwhile to understand common benefits.
  • When to deploy it? It’s worthwhile to look to the future when an investment in smart technology is being considered.



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