What We Really Need From Smart Buildings

The concept of smart buildings growing from a foundation of connected sensors is not new. The widely accepted vision of a smart building is one in which a building runs with frequent automation, is energy efficient, and offers occupants with more services than the average brick and mortar structure. This general outline of a definition allows for many different types of buildings to be considered smart. But, it widely fails us in what we really need from buildings today.

These days people widely feel safe in their homes but view more publically accessible buildings as risky. There are too many elements to control and who knows where people have been and who they’ve been around. In the past year, buildings have become a symbol of both safety and risk. The unknown has led many to live socially distanced lives, getting groceries by delivery and only getting take-out from restaurants, wearing masks when outside of their homes and in other ways very different from how their lives were just last year. Fortunately, buildings are in a position to save the day, if they choose to accept the mission.

We need more than energy efficiency and fancy automation from smart buildings today. We need security.

Buildings have always had a focus on security. Whether centuries ago in the form of castles with thick, stone walls and a deep moat or today’s technology-supported security and alarm systems, buildings still often have an element of protection and safety. However, as the world has become perceived as safer and protection has been outsourced to public safety and law enforcement teams, thoughts about security within the home, office and other public locations have become afterthoughts – something to think about after the interior renovation was completed, or something that stayed in the cybersecurity realm.

As a whole, we have become much more accepting of a technology-supported environment from Alexa to smart thermostats and Ring security apps, even smart cars. It only makes sense that the baseline technology expected in an indoor environment should pivot to support our new requirements. Today, thanks to the pandemic, we are much more conscious about the indoor environments of the buildings we occupy as to how they impact our health.

Buildings that are considered smart must first satisfy our basic needs which include safety and security. We don’t need moats around buildings or people guarding the doors; we need more intelligence about our indoor environments like the air we’re breathing. Technology has risen to the challenge and is ready to accurately detect and precisely monitor our environments, especially when it comes to indoor air quality (IAQ).

High IAQ needs to be a prerequisite for buildings to be considered smart. Sensors can track many elements in air quality like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and, of course at the top of everyone’s mind, harmful viruses like COVID-19. With the data from these sensors, building operators can detect minute changes in the environment and alert occupants so contamination is avoided. 

Depending on the layout and structure of a building, the type of sensors used to best monitor and ensure high IAQ may vary from place to place. The most important part of data is being able to use it – without understanding the language and what the implications of the data can be, there is no purpose of having sensors. This is exactly why we built Envio Systems – to listen and talk to sensors and systems of all kinds so that data can be aggregated into one central and convenient location. 

Envio Systems is an affordable IoT control system for any building. We started because we knew there should be a better way to know what’s happening in your building’s indoor environment, with a focus on energy efficiency. This was, of course, before we had pandemics to worry about and the type of sensors that we use and integrate with has greatly grown as what people need from buildings has evolved. Our goal at Envio is to help industries do more with less. We believe in the power of technology to improve the lives of people.


Interested in learning more? Contact us!

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