What is a Smart Building?


PropTech Advice


Freddie Pritchard-Smith


January 8, 2024

What is a Smart Building?
The term “smart building” is Googled around 1,000 times a month in the UK.

And if you’re one of those hitting search on this illusive phrase, you’ve likely been confronted with terms such as building automation, HVAC, intelligent buildings, automatic centralised control, building energy management, and the list goes on…

But nothing succinctly answers the question.

Does ChatGPT have the answer?

That's certainly getting there, but what do fitness centres and on-site food have to do with smart buildings?

Actually, a bit more than you think.

As Smart Building and Proptech Consultants we’re frequently confronted with the statement – “I want to make our building smart”.

That's great, but smart for who, and why?

In its essence, a smart building is a property with embedded technology that operates and monitors building processes, whilst offering a better experience to users.

But what that technology is, what it does and the perceived necessity of it, differs when talking to the various building stakeholders – landlords, building operators and occupiers.

  • A landlord may have a focus on utilisation, so people counting sensors are high on the agenda.
  • A building operator will want automatic alerts when something goes wrong.
  • An occupier may want an app that, among other things, allows them to order lunch for the 12noon meeting. (But I am quite sure there are a few other apps that may manage food delivery better than the building can)

It becomes even trickier when you’ve got consultants and contractors working for these groups, each with their own agendas too.

  • An ESG consultant may need different reports to the building’s FM on energy consumption.
  • A WELL consultant working on a full refurb may want to factor indoor air quality sensors into the designs.

Each stakeholder has different requirements of a smart building, and it is the alignment of all these needs, plus the successful implementation and measurement of the required (or desired) tech, that makes a building truly smart.

How does a building become smart?

The first step (and often the most neglected one) is to unite the conversations with PEOPLE about smart building requirements.

A building is only as smart as the people using the technology so without this, what technology is needed, and why it is required, cannot be fully understood. Resulting in underutilised technology, unnecessary costs, and unhappy stakeholders.

Once this has been established, then, and only then, can conversations move on to what tech to buy from the 10,000s plus PropTech providers out there, and a building’s journey to become intelligent.

What next? 

1. Download our Five Step Guide to Making Tech Work for your Asset, using the form below >
2. Enquire about the SMART module of our Building Audits which provides a benchmark for achieving a smart building >
3. Explore the Verified Marketplace solutions that solve the SMART Building challenge >

Download the Five Step Guide to Making Tech Work for your Asset

Freddie Pritchard-Smith


Freddie Pritchard-Smith

Freddie has a foundation in commercial real estate having worked for over 10 years with some of the most prestigious landlords in the Central London office market such as LaSalle Investments, Shaftesbury and Blackstone. Back in 2018 he pivoted his career to build and launch a tenant engagement mobile app and smart building platform call Savvy. Savvy deployed in 15 numerous buildings across the country and is used by thousands each day as well landlords like Derwent London and Clearbell. Freddie’s background in both real estate and technology enables him to understand the nuances in both commercial and technology development processes. It also drives his passion for seeing underutilised proptech succeed and ensure that any technology provides an enjoyable experience for customers

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