Smart Buildings: Key to 'Smart Cities'

Tue, 2015-09-01 11:00 -- SCC India Staff

Smart Buildings: Key to 'smart' cities

Smart Buildings are not just green or sustainable buildings, but are Intelligent Buildings that are responsive to changing needs of its users. A smart building is a facility that integrates Technology – IT, security, and building services, and Processes – design, construction, and operations, through advanced automation to measure, monitor, control, and optimise building operations and maintenance. Smart building systems provide adaptive, real-time control over an ever-expanding array of building activities in response to a wide range of internal and external data streams. Smart building is liveable, human-centric, and more comfortable and productive for its users.

The concept of a smart city is a fluid one and entails several different approaches. Existing cities, can be retrofitted with smart elements or brownfield redeveloped in phases. Entirely new cities, greenfield projects, conceived as 'smart' from the offset and constructed from scratch can also be built. But the lowest common denominator to any kind of smart city is a smart building. On a basic, microscopic level, if a city is to be smart, it needs to have smart buildings.

The Government of India's has announced first 98 smart cities on 27th August. With smart cities and AMRUT slated to receive central grants of Rs 48,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore, respectively, over the next five years, there is immense growth promise for Smart Buildings and energy-efficient buildings technologies. The Smart buildings are catalysing the development of such cities can largely contribute in improving the quality of life of the citizens.

As India seeks to drive its ambitious housing, infrastructure, and energy development programmes, it would do well to make efficient use of clean technologies to ensure a better quality of life for its citizens through a lower carbon footprint. That is the only way to safeguard the well-being of future generations.


  • Optimized energy-efficiency and high environmental sustainability
  • Advanced capability and flexibility to accommodate changes, mobility, and connectivity
  • Increased user comfort and productivity – with superior living environment
  • Improved safety and reliability
  • Increased operational effectiveness – energy and resource efficient building systems
  • Enhanced cost effectiveness – with reduced consumption and operation management
  • Upgraded global data connectivity
  • Maximized usage of natural resources (natural lighting, rain-water harvesting)
  • Increased re-usage of natural resources (recycled water, renewable energy)

In this background, leading industry stakeholders share their definition of smart, as they elaborate on the changing market dynamics and ways of measuring smart along with related success stories.


Today's green projects are laying the foundation for the smart cities dream, says SHRIKANT JOSHI, Chief Executive & Director, L&T Realty.

Antiquated infrastructure is groaning under the weight of rapid urbanisation. An irreversible phenomenon, the only solution is to build for the future, upgrade existing metropolises and construct new megalopolises, cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living, urban oases that can be magnets for investment û smart cities.

Driven by a growing demand for enhanced yet efficient living and working spaces, buildings today are getting ever smarter. A smart building uses technology to integrate the various processes that govern its functioning, ensuring it runs as efficiently and sustainably as possible by reducing costs and resource consumption.

Over the past decade, buildings in India have evolved from being concrete hulks to spaces designed to not just be aesthetically pleasing but using modern construction methods, technology and materials.

Landmark project
The Seawoods Grand Central project in Navi Mumbai, India´s first transit-oriented-development, developed by L&T and designed and planned to international standards by HOK, incorporates sustainability in every aspect of its design. The project has been awarded Gold level pre-certification from LEED, and will cause least impact possible on the environment during construction and operations, translating into lower monthly overheads and increased savings.

Fully glazed facade with heat-repelling high performance glass reduces need for internal lighting while keeping the heat out, thereby reducing energy consumption and costs. Solar power and energy-saving building management system considerably brings down energy consumption. Treated recycled water and rainwater harvesting reduces the demands placed on natural sources of water. Intelligent parking control systems, under-vehicle scanners, and smart-access control systems improve security, save time, and reduce maintenance costs.

"It is a trend that's gathering momentum and eventually 'smart' will be the only way to build."


Integrating technology, aesthetics and environment, smart buildings are become increasingly efficient, says SHEKHAR PATKI, Principal Architect, PG Patki Architects.

Smart buildings are self-sustained and fully equipped automation buildings driven by smart controllers where the various systems interact with each other in the most energy-efficient manner. They achieve their mission of high energy conservation by an optimal integration of the building structure with its MEP and IBM systems. Sustainability and energy consumption are critical to smart measurement in buildings, but there are various other measures of building performance. These include heat reduction system, glazing systems, solar energy, parking systems, indoor environment quality, grey water management and rainwater harvesting.

Case in point
Godrej BKC is a Grade A international commercial green building, designed for LEED Platinum certification. Photovoltaic panels for common area lighting, hybrid HVAC system, and high-performance super-clear glass facade with sunshades to mitigate glare, are designed to allow maximum natural light with the least heat gain, boosting energy savings. Storm-water reuse, automated smoke vent as façade actuators, and fully automated robotic car parking maximises energy savings and reusing of natural resources.

"Technology, aesthetics and environment have a huge play in the way buildings have evolved."


The latest clean technologies for buildings ensure a lower carbon footprint and safeguard the well-being of future generations says THANIK B, Director-Business Development & Strategy, Eco-Buildings Business, Schneider Electric India.

Given the tremendous use of energy, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems have exacerbated the impact of global warming. Nevertheless, the latest clean technologies can ensure that modern buildings have a lower carbon footprint. Even older buildings can achieve better energy performance through retrofitting. With green building norms gaining traction globally, developers and owners of buildings are under increasing pressure to ensure energy-efficiency guidelines are met. To maximise the energy-efficiency of all the systems in the building, energy-efficiency experts must be on board during the planning stage of the building.

Integrated energy solutions
Companies such as Schneider Electric take an integrated approach to building management that can reduce energy consumption by 30%, curb capital expenditures, lower operating expenses and boost overall business performance.

Though, every building is unique in its design, function, and operation, and need different results, the solutions are offered via automatic room control as well as HVAC and lighting solutions. Automatic room controls could optimise efficiencies based on four main variables: Time, access, function and occupancy, with all-in-one-box solutions to extremely advanced multi-application centralised solutions. Simultaneously, these systems provide comfort for occupants and keep energy costs down.

Lower operational costs

Well designed state-of-the-shelf technology, green buildings can consume about 30-40% less electricity with no added capital costs. Existing buildings can achieve 25-40% less electricity use with paybacks of less than two to three years. Further, through water-efficient plumbing, ultra-low fixtures, rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling, among other things, water consumption can be reduced by over 40%. Through green guidelines, other benefits accrue too - such as excellent daytime lighting, better indoor as well as ambient air quality, improved well-being of residents, lower usage of scarce resources, etc.

R&D in clean energy, including energy-efficiency and solar energy, is ongoing. At periodic intervals, breakthroughs have helped lower clean energy costs, making them more affordable.

"Smart cities and AMRUT programmes - slated to receive central grants -- should augur well for energy-efficient technology."