People Make Smart Buildings, Not Just the High-Tech Hype

Smart buildings have been and are continuing to catch the eye of many building owners, operators and investors. They’re waking-up to the reality that this is the way of the future and will ultimately reduce costs and improve efficiencies. For some, it’s a significant learning curve, and for others, it’s something they’ve been keeping an eye on for some time.

However, in conversations, presentations and meetings we’ve had with owners, operators, solution providers, and the best of the best integrators who are looking to enter this space and embark on the creation of a smart building or retrofitting a building, we all agree that there is one inherent investment and strategic planning component that seems to be missing.

While we can design and build smart buildings all day long and install the most sophisticated technology, the building will only be as smart as the operator running it. Let me reiterate this point: your building is only as smart as the person running it.

We cannot overlook the fact that enhancing the skill levels of the “people” designing, building, and operating your next smart building is a critical factor in reaping the benefits of the smart building. It’s imperative that companies and organizations not miss this and take the time to invest in the human capital side of the house. We can’t expect someone who’s been working from a pen and clipboard for years to immediately “jump” to get behind this new technology or feel comfortable with it, for that matter.

Over the last five years, we’ve witnessed significant challenges in the marketplace that impact a connected real estate solution and smart building investment plan. We’ve been working to tackle this issue and build relationships to break down the barriers surrounding the misunderstandings of new technology, while presenting the opportunities for those operating the buildings.

We’ve identified some specific in-roads with each of the critical stakeholders, not just the program offices (Facilities Managers, Real Estate Executives, Energy Managers) and the Chief Information Officers, or the Chief Financial Officers. We’ve seen a critical need to drive a collaborative long-range model with the unions and other organizations and are working to educate and train the individuals who will be accountable and using these new technologies.

While a smart building is sexy and will deliver on its promises, don’t be naïve to the commitment and investment it will take to ensure your people are well equipped to run your building…. after all, it’s going to be around for a while.