A survey of nearly 500 buildings across seven major U.S. cities by Honeywell and KRC Research shows that building operators prioritise the safety and security of their facilities over sustainability and productivity. While safety emerged as the top concern, the vast majority of building managers do agree about the beneficial nature of green initiatives.
Half of those surveyed, however, say their facilities aren't equipped with the right technology to maximize energy efficiency and sustainability. In addition, while the country's airports, government offices and hospitals are leading the way with smart buildings, the survey found that, in general, the intelligence of US buildings is low.
The Honeywell Smart Building Score is a first-of-its-kind global index that evaluates facilities based on the technology used to make them green, safe and productive.
"There's an emerging opportunity for buildings to make real contributions to an organization's mission", said Alex Ismail, President and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions. "In addition to helping keep occupants healthy, safe and productive, smart buildings can drive top-line growth and bottom-line profits, making facilities strategic assets instead of overhead".
The survey found that the "smartness" of buildings in the US is low. Out of 100, the average Smart Building Score among the facilities surveyed was 35. In addition, 51% of respondents cite safety as the primary measure of a smart building, while 27% said green assets and 22% claim productive assets are the most indicative qualities.
According to the survey, the top three scoring assets in U.S. buildings are fire detection systems, efficient appliances and fixtures, and remote access/wired infrastructure. And while 82% of building managers agree about the beneficial nature of energy efficiency, only 53% believe their building is "technologically advanced" enough to maximize efficiency.
Public buildings universally score higher on “greenness” with an average score of 40, against 35 for non-public buildings, as well as safety 47 vs. 35, and productivity with 41 vs. 32. Leading to an overall score of 43 for public buildings, compared to the overall private building score of 34.
The survey also ranked eight building verticals (education, airports, hospitals, high-rise residential, government offices, hotels, private offices and retail) by “smartness”. Airports scored highest with 50, followed by government offices with 46 and hospitals with 45. While high-rise residences and private offices were ranked as the least smart, both scoring 31.
Organisations that took part in the research were also asked to self-assess their buildings and give them a score on the same 1 to 100 scale. Participants consistently overrated the intelligence of their facilities, with the survey estimating the average difference between perceived and real scores is more than 20 points. Approximations from hospitals and government offices were often closest to the surveys Smart Building Score, while the most inflated assessment came from hotels and residential high-rises, where perhaps over exaggeration is more a part of day-to-day business.
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The survey builds on similar research recently conducted by Honeywell in India earlier this year. By way of comparison, the U.S. buildings score much higher in the deployment of safety-focused technologies, while interestingly facilities in India are more sophisticated when it comes to green strategies and tools.
The Smart Building Score evaluates a building's use of 15 technology assets that make a building green, safe, and productive, based on the systems' overall capabilities, coverage of the facility and uptime.
The green asset group rates a building’s carbon emissions, environmental footprint and utility costs for the building occupant or user, by assessing use of natural resources, flexible heating and cooling systems, and control panels for monitoring energy consumption. Epitomised by the transformations of BAS into the BIoT as stated in a Memoori Report earlier this year.
The safe category includes access control, surveillance and intrusion monitoring, fire systems, emergency communications, and health and life safety systems. This represents a category with huge growth potential according to a recent Memoori Security Report.
The productive category measures those technologies that help boost productivity, and includes indoor air quality sensors, lighting systems, data and communications infrastructure such as wired and wireless networks, and backup electricity systems for uninterrupted power. Of which, lighting controls is set to see the greatest penetration in the coming years, as covered by the latest Memoori Report.
Honeywell leaders presented the research findings in late October at VERGE 2015 in San Jose, California. The results were accompanied by a white paper from Honeywell named, Put Your Building to Work: A Smart Approach to Better Business Outcomes, which details how targeted investment in smart buildings can be used to drive economic and environmental benefits, and help protect human life and building assets.
The acceptable conclusion is that the benefits of energy efficiency are important, but not paramount, to building owners and operators and that implementation of measures to cut energy use are inconsistent in both existing structures and new building design. At the same time, other priorities such as security, could take some of the focus away from energy efficiency.