Smart Building Technologies - The Future is Here

Smart Building Technologies - The Future is Here

17th December 2014

We’ve been hearing a lot in the news and online lately about the Internet of Things and smart building technologies.  We always have our finger on the pulse here at Safety Fabrications so that we can bring you the latest news and views in the construction industry.   Smart building technologies may seem futuristic, a little bit science fiction, if you will. 

However, if you work in the construction sector, whether it’s in building new structures or remodelling and refurbishing existing ones, the work you’re doing is on buildings of the future.  These buildings are intended to last and serve their purpose in the coming years, so they need to be fit for the future.  This means that intelligent building techniques and materials are likely to be incorporated so we’re going to look at what smart building is all about.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term that’s used to describe the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices with the existing Internet structure.  It is providing us with advanced connectivity of services, systems and devices beyond machine to machine communications (M2M) and will eventually lead to automation in just about everything.  The IoT connects physical objects through embedded sensors and actuators via both wired and wireless networks and is currently seeing a concentration of innovation within the IT industry.

Smart buildings are automated via technology to make them more efficient for their users – this can apply to homes as well as work places and we’re likely to be seeing some very cool houses as this new trend takes off.  In recent years, progress in data gathering and analysis has led to new possibilities in smart building technology and the “connected home”.   These developments are likely to change the way in which we live over the coming years as our homes and workplaces work harder for us.

The connected home will dramatically change our daily lives in many ways.  Our networked homes will enjoy multiple services delivered via superfast broadband, including:

  • Home automation and security
  • Entertainment and education
  • Healthcare
  • Control of energy use
  • Interaction with government and local authorities

Broadband speeds of at least 6Mbps will be necessary to run these homes with multiple TVs, computers and other internet devices.  An effective home network will need to be created to allow for easy interoperability of the services and devices in use.  Most of today’s digital and electronic consumer devices use different technologies which presents a challenge when it comes to designing and configuring a home network. 

At present just over 50% of UK homes have a wireless router that provides a basic Wi-Fi network and another 20% use a wired internet connection (while the other 30% have not internet connection).  Future house prices are likely to be influenced heavily by the quality of the technology and services built in to the property.  Creating a home network in existing homes will require retrofitting a concealed wiring system – this is likely to be funded by remortgaging deals or as part of the mortgage when a property changes hands.  Retrofitting is likely to lead to an increase in demand within the building industry, especially for SMEs, good news for the future.

New build properties are likely to have the necessary network incorporated during the construction process and house builders will need to understand the impact this will have at the design stage and the technical issues that will need to be taken into account.