Smart air quality monitoring devices

The Complete Guide to IoT Smart Buildings

If you want to learn more about how to implement smart building technologies, you’ll enjoy this comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know.

The Smart Building Industry Worldwide

There has been significant growth in recent years in the number of residential and commercial complexes being converted into ‘smart buildings’. Today’s builders and architects are adopting technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technology to manage and control building systems, improve efficiencies, enhance safety and promote sustainability and cost savings.

Drivers for Smart Building Adoption Include:
Increasing demand for resource efficiency and sustainability
Increasing demand for resource efficiency and sustainability
Changing occupant requirements and expectations
Changing occupant requirements and expectations
Emergence of IT, IoT and smart building technologies
Emergence of IT, IoT and smart building technologies
The smart building market is expected to continue on its upward trajectory
$43.64 billion
$51.78 billion
$109.48 billion
Chapter 01.

What is a Smart Building?

A smart building uses sensors and connected devices to monitor various building elements, analyse data, and generate insights that can be used to optimise the building’s operations.

For a building to be ‘smart’, it needs to have a holistic system of integrated hardware, such as sensors and gateways, that make building functions ‘smart’ via real-time data transfer, two-way communication and automation.

Smart Buildings are Not a Recent Phenomenon:

1st Generation Smart Buildings

Focused on efficient infrastructure Facility management perspective

2nd Generation Smart Buildings

Added conveniences to occupants and owners Driven by the rise of IoT devices and associated technologies

3rd Generation Smart Buildings

Transforming buildings into agile, automated, sustainable, health-conscious ecosystems Propelled by IoT platforms

What’s the Difference Between Smart Buildings and Building Management Systems?

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there are some key differences between what’s commonly classified as a ‘smart building’ vs a ‘building management system’.

What is a BMS?

A Building Management System (BMS) is a computer-based system installed in buildings to manage and monitor facilities management equipment. The BMS control system can be used to monitor and manage the mechanical and electrical services in a building or facility. 

These can include:

  • Power
  • Elevators
  • Lights
  • Access Control
  • Ventilation
  • Heating
  • Air-conditioning 

By linking the functionality of individual pieces of building and facilities equipment, a BMS enables these entities to operate as one integrated system. 

The hardware and software technologies of the BMS were created back in the 1960s. Over the years, however, the BMS infrastructure has grown organically alongside advances in technology, adding layers of communication protocols, networks, and controls. With IoT functionality, new generation BMS’ allow for the integration of multiple system vendors.

So, what’s the difference between smart buildings and building management systems?

Typically, a facility manager will use a building’s BMS simply to monitor for problems and carry out basic controls for heating, ventilation and HVAC; possibly also for lighting, access control and power monitoring. 

But with an increasing focus on energy efficiency, sustainability, as well as changing tenant needs and expectations, traditional building management systems are being pushed to grow and evolve. Fortunately, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, IoT and analytics are enabling new and broader capabilities.

The next-generation BMS’ integrate and aggregate all of a building’s data across multiple business and operations systems and sensors; essentially, turning a building into a smart building.

  • With the advancements in IoT technology, it has become easier and less expensive for manufacturers to add controls, sensors and IP network connectivity to more of their systems and devices. 
  • Connecting devices and systems moves the BMS from simply making the facility manager’s job easier to assisting tenants directly. 
  • Using Big Data analytics and AI technologies makes building operations and management more automated, reliable, efficient and proactive. 
  • Cloud computing provides the power, storage and security for analytics and AI. 

These IoT technology evolutions have enabled the development of smart building technology. Thus, a smart building can be seen as an evolution of a BMS.

Chapter 02.

How Do IoT Smart Buildings Work?


IoT smart buildings offer a single management system that unifies a variety of smart building functions to simplify oversight and better coordinate responses. This is enabled by an intuitive and secure network, powered by devices and endpoints that collect real-time data and enable a wide variety of unique applications and automations.

It all starts with an IoT network…

IoT Building diagram

To have a smart building, you will need a central network connected to the Internet of Things. 

IoT devices can include:

  • Smart sensors that collect and transmit data securely back to the central network
  • Automated mechanisms for environmental controls 
  • Security-related devices such as automatic door locks and badge readers 

What makes these devices ‘smart’ is that when they are connected to a wireless network they proceed to share, gather and analyse real-time data. Key considerations for the network include:

  • Automation
  • Security
  • Ease of integration
  • Scalability 

Key features of an IoT smart building

As discussed, water temperature testing itself is not a legal requirement, but it is your legal duty to control the risk of Legionella. Water temperature testing is one way of doing this.

Real-time data analytics

Real-time data analytics

Real-time data gathering and analytics make up a smart building’s DNA. This information is extremely valuable in helping facilities managers and decision-makers determine which courses of action to take. The raw data collected throughout the building via sensors and other devices help you quickly understand and unpack user behaviours, identify patterns, and anticipate threats.

Wireless communications

Wireless communications

The advancement of wireless communications has been critical to making buildings smarter. This technology enables real-time collaboration and data sharing in a way that is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement.

User interface

User interface

Simple user interfaces help people to make sense of complicated or information-heavy data. A smart building solution will incorporate a central data collection, analytics, reporting and management dashboard that presents information in meaningful and actionable ways. Taking this one step further, IoT smart building software can embed personalisation based on an individual user’s behaviour, which enhances their experience even further.

Today, cloud technology ensures that these software applications are accessible 24/7 from anywhere, at any time, on any connected device.

The benefits of these real-time communications tools and streamlined user interfaces include:

  • Enhanced user experience
  • Faster, easier collaboration and information sharing
  • Increased situational awareness
  • More accurate diagnoses
  • Better service
  • Faster responses
Chapter 03.

Advantages of Smart Buildings

Protect the storage of crops, fertiliser and fuel


Secure farm perimeters and buildings


Safeguard your workers and livestock


Smart buildings merge the digital and the physical world, allowing a building to become like a living organism that is able to sense the world around it, make decisions, and interact with both devices and humans in a number of ways. In this chapter, we discuss some of the many advantages of smart buildings. 

  • Program dynamic alarms and alerts based on known conditions
  • Dynamically change power, lighting, air-conditioning, and heating based on conditional factors, not just time
  • Understand trending to foster preventative maintenance and continuous commissioning



Taking indirect emissions from upstream power generation into consideration, buildings were responsible for 28% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.


In absolute terms and when construction is included, buildings represent approximately 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

It’s no secret that buildings can have significant carbon footprints. That’s why there is growing regulatory and social pressure on property owners and managers to reduce energy consumption, generate their own power and decarbonise their building operations. This requires accurate, detailed energy monitoring and real-time controls.


Of a building’s total non-fixed operating expenses go towards energy consumption.

Smart building technology promotes energy efficiency through advanced monitoring that helps building managers to lower resource usage and costs and align with the expectations of applicable regulatory and certification bodies. For example, with an accurate indication of energy consumption by building, by section and even by equipment, a facilities manager will be able to rapidly identify how energy is being consumed in the building and how to manage and reduce consumption effectively.  

With centralised and automated environmental controls using artificial intelligence and software applications, buildings can be set up to run in the most energy-efficient way possible. For example, occupancy sensors that only turn on lighting and HVAC systems when an area is occupied.


With real-time data and data analysis enabled by smart building technology, building managers are equipped to identify and implement strategies that enhance building efficiency. In addition, automation and wireless communication reduce the need for manual labour. 

From the get-go, installing and implementing wireless smart building technology is an exercise with no need for cabling and extensive labour and materials costs related to construction. These days, a quick, smart building installation can be done without severe operational interference. Smart systems also are relatively low maintenance and have a long lifecycle. This means only menial resources need be dedicated to the installation and management of the system. 

The automated nature and the functionality of an IoT smart building system both reduce manual labour time and cost by default. For example, an automated legionella compliance system can record the temperature of the water coming out of all outlets in a building in a matter of seconds; instead of the hours it could take to run every water outlet for two minutes and manually record the temperature of each.



By using a variety of technologies to collect, aggregate, and analyse data in real time, IoT smart buildings are able to rapidly adapt to their users. This intuitiveness enabled smart buildings to create user-centric experiences and create an environment that is trusted by its occupants to: 

  • Protect personal health
  • Personalise the resources of the facility 
  • Enhance efficiencies on a personal level 
  • Offer new opportunities for collaboration
  • Keep users secure
  • Keep user data secure

Compliance, energy, and sustainability reporting

Reporting to relevant stakeholders is a significant part of sustainability commitments and compliance. This process is simplified through smart building systems, which automatically gather required data and can be set up to create automatic reports as required. This makes sustainability reporting less labour-intensive and more accurate.

Compliance, energy, and sustainability reporting
Meeting changing tenant/occupant needs

Meeting changing tenant/occupant needs

Today’s tenant expectations are changing, which is driving smart buildings to achieve even more. Not only are renters and employees increasingly aware of climate change and sustainability issues; they also expect a level of personalisation and comfort within their environments. Connection is key, and occupants of today seek to be able to influence their surroundings via digital tools.

These changes in tenant needs and expectations are changing the scope of the facility manager, but smart building technology is helping managers achieve their objectives.

Smart spaces utilisation

One of the many advantages of smart buildings is the ability to provide attractive, welcoming and flexible spaces. 

By providing a better understanding of use patterns and optimising space configuration based on availability, weather, user needs and behaviours, smarter building technologies:

  • Improve user experience 
  • Enable greater collaboration
  • Optimise a building’s usage rates
  • Foster productivity
  • Increase usage per square metre
Smart spaces utilisation
Workplace health and safety

Workplace health and safety

Smart buildings provide peace of mind and personal protection for their occupants by leveraging innovative technologies that monitor spaces, detect risks, and implement automated responses. 

We will discuss workplace health and safety in further detail in the next chapter, which looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the adoption of smart building technology.

Chapter 04.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Smart Building Technology


When people think of smart buildings, they often default to thinking about shrinking carbon footprints, lowering labour costs, and reducing energy consumption. Of course, these are all important objectives. But the coronavirus pandemic has seen the key driver of smart buildings shift to focusing on the health and safety of the building’s users.

Across the world, businesses and public spaces are under pressure to retrofit their facilities with capabilities to clean and sanitise more intensively, enforce social distancing, enable contact tracking and ensure business continuity despite changing workforce dynamics. This is more than a passing pandemic response—COVID-19 will cast a long shadow and most industries will be affected by long-term operational changes.

Wireless technologies help to create a safer and more trusted workplace environment.

Remote Building Management

With more people working offsite, remote management technologies have come to the fore. A cloud-connected smart building management system enables off-site engineers to receive alerts from sensors or notification of security risks through a series of sensors and video analytics. This allows remote personnel to monitor, optimise, and fix buildings remotely.

Examples of tasks that can be automated and operated remotely include:

  • Automating locks for the safety of employees and staff
  • Operating window shades to open and close with the sun
  • Occupancy monitoring
  • Receiving real-time alerts on building problems

With access to all of a smart building’s data from one dashboard, managers can fully manage and optimise their buildings in real time.

Safe Return to Work

As employees return to work, a renewed emphasis on health and wellness helps to reassure employee safety. Today’s workplace and the workplace of the future must continuously commit to usage-based sanitation, occupancy and traffic controls, and tracking and monitoring the environment for elements such as temperature, humidity, lighting, and sound. IoT platforms and the sensory network of systems behind them play a pivotal role in enabling a full range of benefits and advantages for employees, employers, and commercial facility owners.

Example use cases include:

  • Managing and monitoring air filtration through a smart HVAC system to minimise the spread of airborne exposure to the virus
  • Employees can schedule meetings and occupy spaces by locating areas with real-time availability and social distancing requirements
  • Access control based on facial recognition, temperature readings and mask-wearing 
  • Enabling optimised cleaning schedules based on actual usage of a particular space 
  • Creating touchless functionality for high-touch surfaces such as elevator buttons and door handles 

Such smart building uses will greatly help businesses not only to automate increasingly complex facilities management processes, but also to enhance health and safety, practice effective crowd control and meet obligatory regulations.

Chapter 05.

IoT Smart Building Technology Use Cases


When it comes to the applications and use cases of smart building technology, there are virtually no limits to what IoT connected devices, sensors and tags can do. Each building is unique in terms of its structure features, functionality and goals, which is why no smart building rollout looks the same. Nevertheless, here are some examples of common use cases of smart building technology:

Safety and Security

A building’s security system can be made ‘smart’ through a series of security tags and sensors that transmit data to a centralised management dashboard and send instant alerts in case of a breach. 

Hardware installations can include: 

  • Wireless passive infrared sensors (PIRs)
  • Pressure pads
  • Wireless laser beams
  • Motion sensor tags
  • Solar gateway security cameras
  • Sensors on fire safety equipment 
  • Automated fire alarm testing
  • Remote power shut-off
  • Remote water shut-off
  • Leak detection
Safety and security
Workplace Health and Safety

Workplace Health and Safety

As we discussed in Chapter 4, smart building technology is seeing an accelerated adoption with a renewed focus on workplace health and safety as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. From occupancy sensors to air quality monitoring and optimised cleaning schedules, smart technology is making buildings safer and reducing the spread of infection.

Environmental Monitoring, Control, and Optimisation

The ability to monitor and control the building environment using real-time data and automated interventions has multiple benefits for facilities managers, business owners, employees, the environment, and the bottom line.

For example:

  • Smart lighting can be triggered according to occupancy to reduce energy consumption. It can also make an environment more pleasant to work in by automatically adjusting colour and brightness according to the time of day or use of the space.
  • Air quality monitoring ensures a healthy and safe working environment.

Temperature monitoring systems can automatically adjust the temperature of a space according to user comfort levels and energy efficiency.

Environmental Monitoring, Control, and Optimisation
Asset Management

Asset Management

Most of us can relate to the frustration of not being able to find something that we need to use. It wastes time and energy and prevents us from carrying out our tasks efficiently. When this occurs on a larger scale, as it is experienced by employees and businesses around the world, the loss of productivity is vast. 

In today’s fast-paced environment, it is essential for organisations to have complete visibility of their business’ assets and processes in real-time. By tagging assets with smart tags connected to the IoT, employees and managers can keep track of the items they need with real-time location data. 

In addition to asset location, smart asset management within a smart building can also involve asset security, as relevant parties can be alerted if an asset is moved or tampered with. 

Smart asset management also involves predictive, proactive and preventative maintenance. A smart asset register ensures that assets are kept in optimal running order and can alert of any potential problems to be remedied before they become a major issue.

User Experience

Enabled by sensor technologies and digital platforms, a smart building system stores user history and patterns, and updates itself constantly to evolve with the organisation and the people it serves. For example, by monitoring conditions such as temperature and lightning, the system can automatically modify the settings to the preferences and comfort of the users. In addition, smart occupancy monitoring, state-of-the-art security and other smart technologies help provide peace of mind and reassurance of employee’s health and safety.

Space Utilisation

Space Utilisation

Smart occupancy monitoring enables the efficient use of space within a building by allowing people in the workplace to make fact-based decisions when looking at space requirements. In addition, utilisation data collected over time helps building managers and owners identify usage patterns and optimise the workplace accordingly. This has become especially important as a result of people hot-desking, working remotely, or working only at certain times in the office due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Automation and Optimisation

No matter the specific application of smart technology in a building, one thing that all smart building use cases have in common is data collection and analysis. Ideally, a single smart building management dashboard should bring together all the data collected in a way that’s easy to access and analyse. 

Stakeholders and relevant parties rely on this accurate information to drive important business decisions, identify opportunities, and implement efficiencies and cost savings.

Automation and Optimisation
Chapter 06.

IoT Smart Building Solutions


As you have learned more about IoT smart building systems while reading this guide, you will likely have realised how smart buildings are becoming a transformative force in our society.

Incorporating a wide range of technologies involved around real-time data analytics, networking, wireless communications and advanced security, smart buildings are realigning physical spaces and user experiences to create trusted environments that feature:

  • Improved health and safety
  • More intuitive spaces
  • Reduced cost
  • Improved resource allocation
  • Increased sustainability

Digital processes such as data management, AI, cloud computing, edge computing and the IoT will have an ever-increasing role in smart buildings of the future.

The Network Solution That Powers Smarter Buildings

Privately owned by Smarter Technologies, the Orion Data Network is the world’s first fully end-to-end IoT low-power radio network solution. This unique and proven system was developed alongside our long-standing involvement in the tracking and recovery of high-value assets using our global network. 

The Orion IoT Data Network combines low-power radio and asset tracking and security to create a low-power, long-range, wireless, sim-Free digital data network consisting of Orion gateways and tags. Gateways listen, and the tags report on the location and status of almost any assets in real-time. Our dashboard’s software, apps and APIs ensure you are alerted appropriately of any event and historic data storage ensures evidence of compliance.

The Orion network offers 2-way communication, so devices not only monitor and alert, but can be instructed via your app from anywhere in the world to carry out an action such as flushing a tap, turning power on/off, etc.

Benefits of The Orion Data Network.



No GSM associated costs and smaller devices.



1-5 kms.



Easily built out to suit you.



Tags last for years.



Can't be jammed.

Remote Configuration

Remote Configuration

Data can be passed to and from monitoring devices.

Lower Frequency than GSM

Lower Frequency than GSM

Data signal can be exported anywhere.

Rapid Deployment of Infrastructure

Rapid Deployment of Infrastructure

Due to the wireless nature of Orion.

Recovery Ability

Recovery Ability

Can switch from digital to analogue to increase recovery capabilities and accurate asset location.



Track assets, record temperatures, motion and more.

Contact us today to see how our smart building monitoring system can benefit your business

Our experts are on-hand to advise you on the most efficient and cost-effective smart building monitoring solutions for your business' needs.

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