Smart Building

Intelligence is ready to move in – the question is, when?

19. April 2021 | Author: Oscar Rechou Iglesias | Images: iStock, Sunrise


With proper planning and implementation, intelligently connected buildings can interact with inhabitants and users, building systems and their environment over their entire lifecycle. To make sure smart buildings are profitable for all stakeholders, digitalization must begin during the planning phase, with the «IoT-ready» design of buildings. 

Buildings that know what to do next and where are no longer a pipedream. This not only covers their management, but already comes into play during the construction phase. Sensors in elevators, adaptive glass facades, solar-powered battery storage systems for electric vehicles, smart meters, connected household devices and central control modules for digital building technology: There is a trend towards smart buildings, not only in new constructions, but also with renovations. Such intelligent buildings interact with users, systems and their environment.



Smart buildings that are based on a clever digital design already conceptualized during the planning phase, are not only more efficient to build and manage, but also help cut costs and tap into new potential sources of revenue. Data from hundreds of sensors automate construction processes as well as facilitate scheduled maintenance work, the remedying of sudden malfunctions or even allow for personalized security systems. Inquiries are processed more quickly, and digitally managed services for inhabitants are activated in a matter of seconds. All this makes life more comfortable for all those involved.


Three examples


Example 1:

If there is a defective system – for example, the heating – the landlord is informed in real time or even through predictive maintenance. Building maintenance can then intervene. The service personnel do not have to identify the flaw themselves, as the sensors directly guide them to the correct spot and report what needs to be repaired – including an automatically triggered order for spare parts.

Example 2:

An intelligent fire detector not only detects when a certain concentration of smoke accumulates in the building and automatically informs the fire department, but also transmits precise information on the location and scope of the fire in real time. 


Example 3:

An app from the landlord offers tenants numerous services that they can book at the tap of a button to make their daily lives easier. For example, if they want to spontaneously leave town for a few days, they can find someone to water their plants and feed their cats on the way to the airport. With a digital access control system, the service provider is granted access to the apartment for a limited period.


No good prospects without a data storm

Thoroughly digitized applications enable greater efficiency, security and comfort for all stakeholders. This in turn makes properties more attractive in the long term – to the benefit of both building owners and tenants. But there’s a problem.


It’s hardly a secret that modern planning, construction and exploitation processes are highly fragmented. According to a recent study, the Swiss construction and real estate business is in a digital slumber, ranking a mere 4.1 on a 1–10 scale of digital maturity. Plenty of space to make some improvements by rethinking all phases of the building lifecycle.  

Many puzzle pieces make a picture 


Many stakeholders are involved in every new construction and renovation project – from owners, planners and architects through to the construction companies, including kitchen builders, and up to real estate managers as well as software providers who supply digital platforms. Planning and construction processes are increasingly defragmented with the help of digital tools. 

One requirement to digitalize all phases of the building lifecycle is seamless building interconnectivity, connecting future IoT sensors from the basement up to the roof with the Internet of Things or real-time application such as augmented reality. Moreover, all players are called upon to adopt a comprehensive perspective of collaborations and future usage scenarios from the very beginning. Shared applications such as BIM help in making use of comprehensible documentation years on. Consequently, a shared understanding of a «digital-first» approach is important. 

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Central databases for «glass buildings» 

CAD (computer-aided design) applications allow architects to create 3D building models. These data can be integrated directly into BIM (building integration modeling) systems, which in turn function as central building databases. These databases are fed with additional data from all involved parties – such as information on the machines, materials or installed sensors and lines.


Sunrise Business Connectivity allgemeine Funktionsweise

The plans can be accessed on mobile devices and adjusted continuously, to not only make processes more efficient but also ensure greater transparency and with that security of planning, as all parties have all information available to them in real time – like a real-life glass building. Downstream stakeholders, such as interior designers, facility management and providers of new services for inhabitants, benefit in turn from digitally continuous planning data. Taglines like «from BIM to FM» are finding an increasingly larger audience.


Sunrise Business Connectivity allgemeine Funktionsweise


Giving machines and sensors a voice  

Sunrise Business Connectivity allgemeine Funktionsweise

Seamless connectivity is an essential requirement for the realization of intelligent buildings – during the planning as well as construction and utilization phase. This is the only way to guarantee that the data – which must be collected, augmented, analyzed and transmitted to the recipient, if possible in real time – allow for a sensible response.

To make sure intelligent buildings can keep communicating over their entire lifecycle – using the voice we give them – they must be designed «IoT-ready»:

All digitally connected building systems and sensors are linked to one another and can communicate with one another, through the Internet of Things (IoT) and a stable data network.

Digital – the common denominator

If both factors – the «central database» and «IoT-ready» – are consistently implemented from the very start of constructing smart buildings, new applications can be integrated into the system at a later stage without great effort, i.e., expensive retrofitting. This way, the seemingly high initial costs of such buildings are justified, with costs placed in perspective over the entire lifecycle of the building.

What’s required for «IoT-ready» buildings

Seamless connectivity is above all a real challenge in the construction of Minergie buildings, with these buildings often having very good insulation, shielding mobile communications signals. Antennas must be fitted in the buildings to improve mobile connectivity. Once again, a number of technologies is used – among them, the latest mobile communications generation 5G as well as NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT). The latter communications standard is, unfortunately, not very energy efficient. NB-IoT is capable of effortlessly penetrating thick walls, whereas 5G is perfect for the real-time transmission of large data quantities.

The iCaaS (Indoor Coverage as a Service) solution from Sunrise is suitable for integrating all technologies and in turn ensuring seamless connectivity. The solution is multivendor capable: All providers and manufacturers can be integrated into the high-performance network through open interfaces. All stakeholders are given a free choice in opting for smart building solutions.

Sunrise Business Connectivity allgemeine Funktionsweise
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