The difficulties of defining smart

What is a “Smart Building” and why do I need one?

 Never has a phrase been used so much with so little agreement on a definition as the term “smart building”. Before even considering anything else, agreement is needed on what a smart building is. Scenariio is proud to be a member of the Net Zero Building Carbon Standard steering group which will establish a universal standard for smart and sustainable buildings. But until that arrives, how to determine what is smart or not?

Once you understand what a smart building could be and how to measure your building against the term, the technology and opportunities available are much easier to go through. So, how can a smart building be defined? 

“A Smart Building is one that uses technology to enable efficient and economical use of resources, while creating a safe and comfortable environment for occupants”. 

So, basically, it’s a building that uses sensors and other devices to make user experience easier and safer, whilst saving on usage and cost. With that in mind, it doesn’t take much to consider if your working environment is smart. 

For us at Scenariio, it’s what you get out of technology that makes it smart. Sticking a sensor to the ceiling ticks a box – but what tangible benefit do you gain from that? Do you use the data? 

If you are able to answer yes to some of the questions below, then you are on the road to working in/owning or experiencing a smart building.

  1. Do you have any sensors in your workplace? 
  2. Do you have any visualisation of your data from your workplace? 
  3. Do you make decisions based on that data?
  4. Do you know how warm it is in your workplace?
  5. Do you know how many people are in your workplace?
  6. Do you know how much energy you are using, and how much it’s costing?
  7. Do you know environmental information about your office – humidity levels or CO2 levels?
  8. Do you know how many car parking spaces are free (Is an EV point in use?)
  9. Can you control your lighting or make it work based on motion?
  10. Can you book desks or meeting spaces?
  11. Can you control your HVAC system – (heating, ventilation and air con)?

For your building to be smart, you don’t need to meet all the above criteria – but if you do, you have a fairly smart building!

If you don’t, it’s important to understand the value of having this data available. Does the initial capital cost to install justify the operational, strategic and ESG benefits. Unsurprisingly, we believe they do. 

Having a smart building is becoming the norm. It is more than just a nice to have and there are a few reasons why they are becoming more and more common: 


Legislation is coming and businesses will soon have to prove what they are doing in order to reduce carbon emissions. Data helps reduce waste, smart lighting reduces energy consumption, and our dashboards show building users how they are making improvements. 

    2. Wellbeing:

Post-pandemic, the workplace has changed. Putting your people in control of their working day gives them security, responsibility and control that encourages them into the building and back to work. App-based lighting and AV control, desk or room booking works as a retention and recruitment tool. 


Every business can be more efficient. Smart technology can provide the evidence needed to make strategic and operational decisions about your space. It can reduce energy consumption by 90% and improve productivity by 25%. 

In addition to those core messages, smart buildings have the following benefits - 

  1. You can gain a true, real time and/or historic insight into your workplace. 
  2. Make things easier for yourself, through automation and visualisation.
  3. You can take your environment by the reins and customise and control in whichever way you please.
  4. You can take comfort knowing that it will back up security / alarm systems – through motion detection.
  5. The opportunities are truly endless. 

A huge amount of research has been done into this technology and we have lots of statistics to demonstrate its impact. Here are a few key statistics.

Well-being of staff – making sure the working environment is a safe one through the collection of environmental data. 

  1. A healthier work environment can reduce sick leave by up to 58% and increase productivity by 61%.
  2. As technology advances, skilled workers are starting to demand smarter workspaces. 
  3. 44% of employees worldwide believe their workspace is not smart enough – this is according to research by Dell and Intel. 
  4. 42% of millennial employees said they would quit their job if the workspace technology was not good enough. 
  5. Better air means better decisions.
  6. 101% boost in decision making skills through improved indoor environmental quality, from a study by Harvard School of Public Health.
  7. Healthier air resulted in a productivity gain of £15,000 per employee each year.
  8. 27% reduction in staff turnover at Cundall’s UK after implementing smart building improvements.
  9. 50% improvement in cognitive skills of tested worker in typical office spaces with reduced CO2 levels.
  10. Companies spend 90% of their running cost on salaries, while energy and rent amount to only 10%.
  11. Research by JLL showed that to achieve a $7 savings, you would need to improve energy efficiency by 20% or, improve productivity by only 2%.

Energy saving via the implementation of smart lighting. 

  1. 90% energy saving vs fluorescent, 40% vs LED 
  2. 25% increase in productivity, 12% increase in accuracy, 35% decrease in absence levels 
  3. Used by 5 of the top 10 tech giants globally 

Increase value of property 

  1. Smart buildings increase rental value by 37%

The case for making our buildings smarter is now beyond debate. It is one of the most cost-efficient ways of demonstrating commitment to carbon reduction, reducing spend on energy and creating a better workplace for your employees.

Whilst the “smart building” world can feel like a term that is difficult to understand, we have the expertise, experience and integrity to help do what is right for your business. For any further detail, please get in touch to discuss how it could potentially work for you. 

If you aren’t smart and want to be, get in touch. 

If you already are but want to be smarter, get in touch. 

If you think you’re the smartest you can be, get in touch and let’s speak about what else you might be able to do with your building and data!