Is Your Building Green, Smart, Intelligent, and Well?

Facility leaders, human resources directors, information technology departments, building owners, and executive management are putting more emphasis on their workplace environment than ever before. Though beautiful architecture, energy-efficiency, and other priorities are not new, the convergence of the four strategic areas of building and workplace design is happening across the industry and within the walls of many organizations. These four disciplines – green, smart, intelligent and well – are coming together at a rapid pace due to the competition for talent, rising energy costs, technology advancements, employee wellbeing efforts, and forward-thinking community development. What are these strategic building disciplines and who is huddling to move the ball forward?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), green or sustainable building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. The components of green building design include energy efficiency and renewable energy, water efficiency, environmentally preferable building materials and specifications, waste and toxic reduction, indoor air quality, and smart growth and sustainable development. The successful adoption of green building strategies can increase the economic and environmental performance of buildings, and according to the article, The Business Case for Green Buildingincrease its value up to 20%.

Industry experts define a smart building as a structure that uses automated processes to automatically control heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and security. This infrastructure helps facility managers improve the building’s reliability and performance and reduces energy use through the effective use of controls, timing, and occupancy strategies. Lighting control systems are helping facility managers jumpstart their efforts to modernize their facilities and take that first step from smart to intelligent building design.

The Intelligent Buildings Institute defines an intelligent building as “one which provides a productive and cost-effective environment through optimization of four elements: structure, systems, services and management, and the interrelationship between them.” In our blog, Is Lighting Leading The Way To Intelligent Buildings?, we discuss that the largest barrier to creating intelligent buildings is interoperability. With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the demand for networked connected systems, interoperability and technology standardization is key to intelligent building design and performance. Careful decision making is a must when choosing technology-based systems. We discuss this in more detail at What Owners & Architects Don’t Know About Intelligent Buildings.

Now how do we take the green, smart, and intelligent building strategies and consider The WELL Building Standard®? This standard is created by the International Well Building Institute, and is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. They use research-supported strategies to advance health, happiness, mindfulness and productivity in our buildings and communities. Employee wellbeing programs are not just a gym reimbursement. Employee wellbeing is an organizational strategy aimed at reducing stress and improving the overall health and wellbeing of employees and their families. It is an effective talent branding tool used to attract and retain top talent who are looking for creative ways to collaborate, connect, innovate and socialize at the worksite. In a place like Boston, the most innovative city in the U.S., talented workers are making employment choices based on the work environment and access to healthy, productive lifestyle choices. Organizations are taking a hard look at the WELL Building Standard and considering facility investments to better serve the community and the health of their employees.

Facility managers, now more than ever, play an important role in bringing together information technology and human resources leaders, executive management, and building owners to discuss short and long-term building strategies. Through assessments and prioritization aligned to organizational goals, leaders can capitalize on their current investments and create a plan to modernize their facilities with green, smart, intelligent, and well building standards as a foundation.