Trevor Leitao is a Smart Building and Building Automation Consultant at chapmanbdsp, a building services and environmental engineering consultancy. Trevor helps clients evaluate and integrate ‘Smart’ solutions into their corporate and sustainability aspirations and argues that companies must review and formulate their aspirations for ‘Smart’ by RIBA Stage 2 to maximise outcomes.
When clients are thinking about incorporating ‘Smart’ technology into their buildings I first ask them to define what they mean as ‘Smart’. I do this as the technology is perceived so differently by individuals and companies and there are many definitions out there for what a ‘Smart’ building or workplace may mean to various stakeholders.
Simply put, a ‘Smart’ building is an asset or an environment that behaves exactly like or better than it was intended to behave.
Once a client and I agree what ‘Smart’ means for them, we then go through what outcomes the client requires and create an early definition, and consequent measurement, of targeted outcomes that offer the ability to influence building performance - which in turn makes any building truly ‘smart’.
That early definition of ‘Smart’, along with defining the intended behaviour and outcomes, allows clients to track actual outcomes versus the pre-defined outcomes, which then helps facilitate a means to close perceived performance gaps in buildings.
My experience at chapmanbdsp has taught me that this definition should, ideally, be in place by RIBA Stage 2, as this lays the groundwork for all parties invested in the project to be able to best design and deliver a truly ‘Smart’ building.
Beginning with this defined outcome 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, and much of my work recently has been focused on workplace solutions, advising fit-out tenants and gauging their appetite with respect to the deployment of building and workplace solutions 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 always focusing on market trends and tenant expectations.
For instance, 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.
As with all new technology, clients need to understand why any investment adds value to an asset or portfolio before paying for it. I always tend to re-iterate the importance of that decision through highlighting how solutions should be developed with a focus on operational energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Reducing carbon emissions in buildings will be critical to achieving the Paris climate goals, meeting the UK’s Net Zero emissions targets and other increasingly onerous legislation coming into all sectors.
If you are looking towards evaluating and integrating ‘Smart’ building/workplace technologies into your projects, aim to do this early and feel free to contact chapmanbdsp for a chat…preferably before RIBA Stage 2.