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Julie Noblitt headshot

Honeywell’s “Smart Building Score” Uncovers New Ways to Generate Value


When I think of energy consumption in the U.S., I picture highways clogged with cars or factories pumping heat from tall smokestacks. But, according to the non-profit think tank Architecture 2030, it’s actually the buildings in which we live and work that consume nearly half of all the energy and CO2 emissions produced in the U.S.

At the same time, advances in the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) – the connection and interconnection of sensors to machines and other objects – have generated an explosion in “smart building” technologies that can, among other things, save building owners as much as 15 percent (or more, by some estimates) on energy bills. Spending on such technology is expected to grow from $7 billion in 2015 to more than $17 billion in 2019, according to a recent IDC report.

This poses interesting questions for building managers and owners: What strategic opportunities do smart building technologies represent for you now? And what should you do about it?

What is your building’s I.Q.?

Honeywell has released a new global index, Smart Building Score, which allows building owners and managers to assess how green, safe, and productive their buildings are. Along with this new self-assessment tool, Honeywell has also made available a new white paper, Put Your Buildings to Work: A Smart Approach to Better Business Outcomes. The paper contextualizes the global future of smart buildings with data from a new survey of building owners and facility managers across eight verticals, seven key cities, and 487 buildings. One key finding according to Honeywell's press release: Half of buildings surveyed said they were not equipped to capture energy efficiency and sustainability benefits.

I sat down with Frank Pennisi, VP and GM of Honeywell Connected Buildings at VERGE 2015 in San Jose (October 26-29), to talk about the significance their new findings for building owners and managers. “Everyone wants to cut costs and reduce risk, but that doesn’t go far enough in realizing the full potential of what your building can do,” said Pennisi.

Putting your building to work

According to Honeywell's report, 51 percent of U.S. building managers surveyed considered safety and security to be the most critical indicator of a smart building, compared to 27 percent who thought greenness was most important and 22 percent who felt increasing occupants’ productivity was the most critical factor.

Knowing that building owners are focused primarily on safety and security allows Honeywell to engage stakeholders in a conversation about how to achieve efficiency in the whole building network. Internal locating devices called “beacons” can detect when authorized personnel are approaching and open the door for them – that’s the security piece. But that same technology can tell the system when rooms are occupied or not, so that lighting, heating, and cooling can be optimized in the building. The same infrastructure can also be used to help with scheduling conference rooms and hot desking. Once the “smart” infrastructure is in, building owners and managers can layer in additional functionalities in the future without a big retrofit.

According to Pennisi, smart building technology can help building owners achieve their strategic goals, whether that’s generating revenue through reduced energy costs, improving student test scores through better classroom comfort, or improving patient outcomes through reduced time spent in waiting rooms.

“Buildings should not be left as a dead asset to rot on the balance sheet,” Pennisi told me. “There are so many things you can do to allow you to put your building to work and allow you to fulfill your mission, no matter what that is, and the Smart Building Score will help you to do that.”

You can see Pennisi's VERGE Launchpad talk by forwarding to 3:12:45 on the VERGE 2015 Virtual recording.

Image credits: 1.Becky Wetherington, Flickr; 2, 3 used with permission of Honeywell.

Julie Noblitt headshotJulie Noblitt

Julie Noblitt is a social enterprise strategist, tech-for-social-good geek, writer, and community manager pursuing her MBA at Presidio Graduate School for Sustainable Management in San Francisco.

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