Smart Buildings

Whether you are planning a new Smart Building, or are looking to upgrade an existing building, we can help. It is never too early to have a conversation. Typically we cover:

  • Planning for CNS for a new site
  • Retrofitting an in use building
  • Use of Wi-Fi to enable advanced smart services, such as Analytics
  • Cybersecurity
  • Monitoring and management of IP devices across IT, IoT and OT estates

Smart Building Project

When do you have to start thinking about how to make a building smart? That depends to an extent on how you define smart, but we like the WiredScore categorisation of Technological Foundation and User Functionality. Arguably a building becomes smart once the users start to experience the benefits of an enhanced user experience, but logically the journey needs to start with the Technological Foundation, which is underpinned by a Converged Network System (CNS).

The RIBA Plan of Work helps to explain this issue. Typically on a construction project, we are engaged at RIBA Stage 4, Technical Design. Increasingly Architects and Developers are looking to consider how technology can inform Stage 2, Concept Design. Often the CNS is not considered until the MEP packages are being defined, but as the value of planning for the Technological Foundation earlier becomes clearer, the value of exploring how the network influences the concept becomes obvious.

There is also an opportunity for MEP Contractors to reframe the Technological Foundation of Smart Buildings as not just something that is delivered as part of a project, but as an integral part of how a project gets delivered. For example, we frequently see early deployment of the CNS enables use of Wi-Fi for individual and Collaborative productivity during the construction phase. At it’s simplest this allows on site teams to better collaborate e.g. through WhatsApp Groups, but also enable the use of BIM tools on site.

The hidden danger of ‘Value Engineering’

One of the dangers in any complex project is the conflict between achieving desired but intangible outcomes and managing costs. In many projects, the role of the CNS is maybe not fully understood, so there is an understandable tendency to specify the required network build with one eye on cost reduction. We often hear this referred to as Value Engineering. This problem can sometimes be exacerbated by consultants replicating a previous project’s design due to time pressures. The result can be that the resultant CNS can be misaligned to the requirements, causing multiple issues post-practical completion.

Our experience is that time spent in making sure the CNS design is properly aligned to the future requirements of the Smart Building is essential. Ideal can help by offering input during the network specification stage, providing guidance on the implications of specific choices regarding design and vendor selection.

‘Design to Manage’ equals Smarter Construction

One of the often unanticipated impacts of a Value Engineering approach is that it overlooks the added value of having a CNS that can support digital collaboration during the building manufacturing and construction stage. By providing on-site connectivity, primarily via Wireless, the CNS support basic collaboration using messaging, but also support the on-site use of BIM tools. This creates an opportunity for Main Contractors to reframe the Technological Foundation of Smart Buildings as not just something that is delivered as part of a project, but as an integral part of how a project gets delivered.

Contact us for a conversation about how we can help you maximise the potential of your smart building. Our experience designing, building and managing the CNS for some of the most ambitious Smart Buildings in the UK means that we can help, especially if we engage as early as possible.