3 smart buildings for the minds of tomorrow

12 October 2017 Kingspan Group
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The last two decades have seen technology advance at a huge rate. With the successful integration of smart technology in areas such as motoring and computing, it was just a matter of time before those advances began to influence buildings and their construction.
 
It isn’t just new builds that are benefitting from the latest developments in smart technology. All buildings - residential and commercial - can be retrofitted to become smart buildings.
 
Commercial buildings following the smart trend can streamline facilities management, save energy, and even prevent expensive equipment damages or failures.
 
Here are some buildings around the world benefitting from the use of smart technology:
 

1. San Jose – City Hall

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Companies can retroactively fit their buildings with the latest technology in an effort to save money. One building doing just that is the San Jose City Hall in California.
 
The 18-story postmodern structure is a hub of both local government and cutting-edge technology. It stands tall in a city that is the economic, political and cultural centre of Silicon Valley. 
 
San Jose City Hall was the first existing building to obtain a LEED Platinum certification in the United States - proving that buildings don’t have to be new to receive the best rating for both energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.
 
After installing advanced sensors and a lighting control system with feedback analytics, the building reduced its lighting bill by 53%. Personalised light settings also allowed employees to customise their own lighting preferences.
 
The system allows the building to monitor individual light fixtures, as well as larger grids. The analytics are fed to a wireless central server that autonomously adjusts lighting to maximise energy conservation and increase employee comfort.
 

2. Burj Khalifa – Dubai

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The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is a feat of modern engineering. The 163 floors of offices, luxury suites and hotel space towers over the desert city of Dubai.
 
As well as housing 1,000 residential apartments, it features a restaurant and even a nightclub. As the world’s tallest man-made structure, it also boasts some of the most impressive technology in use today – namely, the condensation collection system.
 
This unique system was designed to irrigate the gardens and water features surrounding the building. Condensation created when the hot and humid air outside combines with the cooling equipment throughout the building. Both the cooling equipment and the condensation collected is monitored around the clock.
 
The resulting condensation is collected and drained into a holding tank beneath the structure. This water is then pumped into the irrigation system for use on the Burj Khalifa park.
 
An estimated 15 million gallons of water are collected in this fashion every year, enough to fill twenty Olympic-sized swimming pools.
 

3. Empire State Building – New York

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Building for the 21st century isn’t just about cutting edge technology. Sustainability and reducing carbon output needs to be considered too. But that can be a challenge for older buildings.
 
As of 2016, buildings were responsible for more than 36% of the CO2 emissions across Europe, consuming more than 40% of the continent’s energy. Much of this comes from buildings constructed in the last century.
 
But one building cutting it carbon footprint to compete with its contemporary counterparts is the Empire State Building. The iconic building features 85 floors of commercial and office space, which is occupied by 1,000 businesses and around 21,000 employees.
 
Originally constructed in 1930, it is considered to be one of the most impressive feats of 20th century engineering. But the technology found in the New York skyscraper today has propelled it to the fore of 21st century innovation.
 
In 2011, a $200 million modernisation project was the force behind this propulsion. One major aim of the retrofit was to address how the building uses light and air and to reduce costs in this area.
 
Carbon dioxide sensors determine how much outside air needs to be brought into specific areas of the Empire State Building, cutting down on needless circulation. The same sensor works as an occupancy system and determines where people are and where lighting is needed.
 
The retrofit involved installing the largest wireless sensor system in the world. From 2011 to 2014, the building exceeded its energy targets by 16%, saving an estimated $7.5 million dollars.
 
Kingspan light and air division recently celebrated its first year. Many similiar innovations to the ones featured above are available through Kingspan light and air whose vision is to make buildings more comfortable and efficient. For more information please click here

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