Q&A: We're getting 'smart' to help our clients meet their goals

Our Smart Building and Building Automation Consultant, Trevor Leitao, is helping clients across all our sectors better integrate ‘smart’ solutions into their corporate and sustainability aspirations. In this Q&A, Trevor argues that companies should be aiming to integrate their thinking at RIBA Stage 2 to maximise outcomes.

Q. What is a ‘smart’ building and when should clients think about incorporating ‘Smart’ building opportunities into projects?

A. ‘Smart’ is perceived differently by different individuals and there are a few definitions out there for what a ‘Smart’ building may mean to various stakeholders. However, simply put, a ‘smart' building is an asset or an environment that behaves exactly like or better than it was intended to behave.

What’s required, is an early definition, and consequent measurement, of targeted outcomes that offers the ability to influence building performance - which in turn makes any building truly ‘smart’.

The piece that tends to get missed, more often than not, is this early definition of the intended behaviour. Defining outcomes early, allows you to track actual outcomes versus the pre-defined outcomes which helps facilitate a means to close perceived performance gaps.

In my experience, this definition should, ideally, be in place by RIBA Stage 2, laying the groundwork for all parties invested in the project to be able to design and deliver a truly ‘smart’ building.

Q. Do ‘smart’ building opportunities matter more to the occupier than the developer?

A. Beginning with defined outcomes is critical for successful delivery of any ‘smart’ building or asset, and the ability to measure and optimise final outcomes offers a unique advantage to building owners, managers and occupiers alike.

As part of this journey, what our clients most benefit from is impartial advice based around their corporate, environmental and operational aspirations, combined with knowledge of emerging technologies and their effects on a traditional built environment.

One of our unique selling points at chapmanbdsp, is our wealth of experience in both the base-build and fit-out aspects of projects. Since joining the company, I have been focused on workplace solutions, advising fit-out tenants and gauging their appetite with respect to the deployment of IoT technology within tenant demises.

This insight into the expectations of tenants, across a range of sectors, is also helping me better advise developers on what should be provided as part of the base-build infrastructure, while focusing on market trends and tenant expectations.

On one large commercial project in London, we have just provided a futureproofed infrastructure for ‘smart’ technology enablement, along with sufficient technology deployed to meet WELL requirements for indoor air quality.

Q. How do ‘smart’ buildings respond to the climate emergency and wellbeing considerations?

A. I always tend to re-iterate the importance of that initial definition of the intended behaviour of the building and highlight a focus on carbon reduction. Reducing carbon emissions in buildings will be critical to achieving the Paris climate goals and meeting net zero emissions targets that may come as a result of the COP26 conference or other legislation.

I strongly believe that efficient management of building energy usage will significantly reduce operational carbon emissions and contribute towards responding to the climate emergency. As part of defining the intended behaviour of a building or asset, a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning driven technologies deployed as part of integrating principles set out by the DfP and WELL standards, will enable energy efficient behaviour and measurable reductions in energy consumption.

Q&A: We're getting 'smart' to help our clients meet their goals