Intelligent buildings

Intelligent buildings

Intelligent buildings strive to create an optimal indoor climate for its occupants and optimize the use of assets and energy. The building uses data from e.g. facility management systems, weather forecasts and sensors measuring e.g. occupancy and air quality in the building.

The European Intelligent Building Group defines an intelligent building as a building that “creates the environment that maximizes the effectiveness of its occupants, while at the same time enables the efficient management of resources with minimum life-time costs of hardware and facilities.”

Often, intelligent buildings use facility management data (e.g. from heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems), combined with other data e.g. weather data or data from temperature, occupancy and air quality sensors installed in the building. Based on this data, the intelligent building may be able to:

  • Detect operational problems with the equipment and predict the need for maintenance
  • Optimise the indoor climate conditions for the occupants,
  • Reduce energy consumption of the building.

Benefits and challenges

  • Reducing the energy consumption of the buildings though e.g. data analytics and predictive maintenance
  • Improving the users’ experience of the buildings and increasing the productivity of people working in the building, by providing a good (and in some cases individually customised) indoor climate.
  • Potentially increasing space utilisation of buildings if occupancy sensors are used
  • Intelligent buildings need to protect the privacy rights of individuals occupying the building (e.g. if the location of people is monitored)
  • Integration of data from different building information systems can be challenging.

Application examples

Comfy offers an app that give building users easy access to comfort data (e.g. temperature and lighting level), and allow them to request for changes to improve their own comfort. Over time the app learns the preferences of individuals, and by tracking the movements of individuals throughout the day, the app can adapt the building management systems to the current users’ preferences. Furthermore, building operators can use the Comfy Insights to understand how the building performs, how different areas are used throughout the day and how to prioritise mechanical issues ( 

IBM Research is developing cognitive buildings. IBM Research demonstrates how a cognitive office building may help employees find the nearest free meeting room and their way there or get information on whether the canteen is currently busy. Furthermore, the data collected from pre-installed occupancy, temperature and illumination sensors in the building may help facility managers optimise the indoor climate, reduce energy consumption and detect the source of operational issues (IBM research).

Development stage

Intelligent buildings can be found on the market, although this technology is still not widespread.

Construction impact

As intelligent buildings optimise the use of finished buildings, this technology mainly affects the operational phase of construction projects.

Related terms

The term intelligent building is closely related to the concepts of smart buildings and cognitive buildings.

Cognitive buildings is a term that is primarily used by IBM. Smart buildings is a term that is very widely used, and in many cases the same as an intelligent building.

A digital twin of a building is a prerequisite for an intelligent building. The digital twin is essentially the BIM model paired with data on how the individual elements perform. According to IBM a digital twin is “Digital twin is the ability to make a virtual representation of the physical elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of Things device operates and works”.

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24 JULI 2024