Fun fact: The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. (“Fun” may be a bit of a stretch.) So, for many people that means tens of thousands of hours sitting at a desk or performing some sort of task within the walls of a building.

Smart homes might get the headlines, but smart buildings are just as — if not more — impactful based on the amount of time we occupy commercial, institutional and industrial spaces, and the amount of space those facilities occupy in our cities and towns. It’s an exciting time to be in the buildings industry as revolutionary ideas and advancements take hold.

At Honeywell, we see signs that point to further investment and, ultimately, more value coming out of facilities. We’re not just talking about structures built with innovative materials. We’re talking about structures with the technology to create flexible ecosystems that improve comfort and productivity, reduce the use of energy and other utilities, and cut operating expenses. Every day.   

There are countless developments and we see three key macro trends that have gained substantial momentum, and are in the process of being scaled and expanded for broader use.

Honeywell’s Himanshu Khurana sees exciting trends in smart building solutions

Predictive and Digitized Maintenance

We are now able to connect buildings at scale, extract data and map back to a digital twin model, which I will explain, to better understand how facilities operate. Plus, through various techniques, we can now predict possible failures or outages, and solve the problems before they happen or create larger issues across a network or broader grid.

A digital twin is a cyber-model or “avatar” of physical assets, processes and systems, which is used to optimize operations and maintenance. Imagine being able to replicate all the processes in your building so you can gain insight into the most effective timing for maintenance or the most efficient way to run updates before having to implement them.

This is possible because of the ability to collect, integrate and analyze data in a meaningful way. The best part is these capabilities can be deployed either at a single building or throughout an organization’s entire portfolio of facilities.

Scalable Operations

As expectations for buildings increase, more departments, such as IT and HR, are responsible for paying attention to and prioritizing building operations. It’s no longer the role of a facilities manager hovering over a monitor in a far off place in the building.

Now, technologies have advanced interfaces, and intuitive experiences and workflows that allow key decision-makers to gather the information and guidance they need to execute jobs effectively. This helps realize efficient buildings at scale.

Intelligent Hardware

Hardware isn’t going anywhere. As transformative as software might be, hardware will always have a role to play. In buildings, we’re seeing hardware-specific enhancements in areas such as HVAC and security and fire. When empowered, this hardware has advanced computing capabilities, more wireless connectivity and the ability to do more at the edge, including analytics.

Operating on the edge enhances advanced applications like edge to cloud. Once you connect the systems in the building to the cloud it’s all about visibility. Other benefits include accessibility from anywhere, easy upgrades and data integration. Insight into the data plus applications allows for more efficient operations.

Beyond these macro trends

Intertwined in all of this is the ever-present and important need for cybersecurity.

When systems are networked and connected, cybersecurity solutions need to be implemented and at the ready — to decrease risk or improve recovery time if crises hit. Consider this comparison: car brakes are analogous. Drivers only step on the gas (or get in the car in the first place) because they know that brakes are in place to slow them down. Cybersecurity is the brakes and controls to minimize threats.

Although these trends help plot a general course to long-term efficiency and savings, every building is unique: how it’s designed, how it’s used, how it changes. Yet there are constants. Every building needs agility, speed and adaptability. Learn more about Honeywell innovations that are helping accelerate the pace of smart building adoption.

It continues to be exciting to work in this space and to see where buildings will go next.