As someone working in the “smart” space, this estimate by Fortune Business Insights is exciting considering the segment’s current position at a meager USD 57 billion. Let´s find the answer why this vertical has so much potential, but first, let´s dispel the notion of ‘smart’.

Often this term is conflated with “connected”, but the two are not synonymous. While the connected model offers conduit for smarter systems, there is no binary tipping point at which a building becomes “smart”. For that reason, I’ll use the term smarter buildings, because everything we do to improve a building’s processes makes it incrementally smarter. While this might seem minute, the door for smarter buildings is open to anyone who cares to enter, not just high-budget, greenfield constructors.

So, why is the smarter building sector projected to reach more than USD 265 billion by 2028? Because smarter buildings have the capacity to improve productivity, reduce resource consumption, and decrease operating costs.

Human productivity reaches a maximum in a specific environment. Occupancy sensors tied to HVAC control optimize HVAC equipment use to maintain temperature and humidity as occupants come and go. Light sensors allow a control system to adjust room brightness based on incoming, natural light. Air quality sensors ensure proper filtration. And with the implications of COVID, smarter capabilities introduce better cleaning and sanitation management, access control for personnel, and improved space optimization.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, commercial and residential buildings account for nearly 40% of the total energy consumption and 25% of the water use in the US. Smarter capabilities can reduce this load by up to 23% in some cases, leading to rapid ROI. Despite the obvious incentive, only 20% of commercial and residential buildings are optimizing utility use, leaving a huge gap in the market – for now.

Beyond the cost savings of utility use reduction, smarter monitoring of critical building assets leads to better allocation of maintenance time. This means a smaller number of people can manage a larger space without affecting a building’s usability.

The motivation for smarter buildings is reaching owners in both commercial and residential spaces as small system improvements drive large bottom and top-line growth. Smarter systems are enabled by readily accessible data. The only question left – How will you get your data?

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Blog post is written by Skylar Dhaese - OT Network engineer helping integrators and manufacturers monetize their digital transformation.