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  • Bill Starkey

What Are Smart Buildings and How Do They Impact the Environment?

The world is constantly changing, with the priorities of consumers evolving in response. With a heightened focus on the environment today, there is increased emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability, well-being, and connectivity.

For some time now, the public has been conscious of climate change and its impact, and the need to take decisive action to avoid disaster in the not-too-distant future. Covid-19 was a stark lesson for us all, reminding us of our powerlessness against the forces of nature.

Improve operational efficiency Smart buildings are living assets utilized by both corporate entities and families to improve the operational efficiency of businesses and homes. Smart buildings rely on technology to control and automate building processes and services, including air conditioning, heating, lighting, security, and more. This is all facilitated by a network of sensors, microchips, and wired and wireless technology that collects and aggregates data into a user interface, effectively taking the guesswork out of building maintenance and control.

The need for smart buildings has always existed. However, 20 years ago, without the technology to support it, the possibility of smart homes did not even enter the public consciousness. Technological advancements over the last 10 years have paved the way for everything to come together. Thanks to the latest construction innovations, the buildings of today can be so much more than fixed, segregated lumps of concrete. Rather, smart homes are an extension of the digital realm, providing occupants with the benefits of new capabilities that not only make their lives easier, but also healthier, enabling people to make better decisions.

Smart home technology comes in a variety of different forms, including:

  • Smart TVs that connect to the Internet, enabling viewers to access apps and stream on-demand videos and music. Some smart TVs also incorporate gesture or voice recognition.

  • Smart thermostats like Nest, which comes with integrated WiFi, enabling users to monitor, schedule, and remotely control the temperature of their homes.

  • Smart security cameras, allowing residents to monitor their homes while they are at work or on vacation.

  • Connected feeders to automate pet care. In addition, yards and houseplants can be watered by connected timers.

  • Smart lighting, utilizing smart lightbulbs that regulate themselves according to the availability of natural light. Systems like Hue from Philips detect when people enter and leave rooms, adjusting lighting as necessary.

  • Smart locks and garage door openers capable of granting or denying access to visitors, and detecting when residents are nearby so doors automatically open for them.

  • Household system monitors that sense freezing pipes or water failures, turning off water to avoid flooding the basement. In addition, household systems can sense electricity surges, turning off appliances to prevent damage and fire.

  • Smart kitchen appliances in a myriad of different forms, including smart refrigerators that formulate their own shopping lists and track expiration dates.

Smart buildings have various advantages for their owners, chief among them conferring the ability to monitor homes remotely, countering risks like an unlocked front door or coffee maker left switched on. Smart homes can accommodate individual preferences, such as hall lights switching on as soon as the owner opens the front door, or the coffee maker switching on automatically in the morning so that they can enjoy freshly brewed coffee without waiting around.

A variety of benefits In terms of the environment, home and workplace automation present a variety of benefits, particularly in terms of improving energy efficiency. Smart home systems learn behaviors, turning heating off as homeowners leave the house, eliminating the risk of leaving the heating on all day when no one is home. By contrast, traditional cooling and heating systems are incredibly wasteful and inefficient, often leaving our homes and workplaces either freezing cold, or swelteringly hot. Smart thermostats tell homeowners exactly how much energy is being used to heat or cool the house, enabling them to moderate temperatures to avoid wasting energy.

The same can be said of smart lighting, extinguishing the lights when occupants leave a room. In addition, smart irrigation systems ensure that the lawn is only watered when absolutely necessary, providing it with precisely the amount of water it needs. Meanwhile, smart systems help homeowners to reduce the water they use in the shower, helping to preserve one of the most precious of all natural resources.

Smart homes and devices enable us to function using far less electricity. Devices like LED use a tiny fraction of the energy required to power traditional lightbulbs. Meanwhile, using timers, remote control systems, and scheduling creates scope to drive down energy waste even further. Rather than devices being left on when not in use, they can be turned off via voice command, or scheduled to turn off at designated times.

Probably the biggest impact of smart homes is keeping humans informed. Smart home technology shows us how our everyday behaviors impact the environment, helping us to make better informed, more environmentally conscious decisions about our everyday behaviors, taking responsibility for our own individual carbon footprint.


Bill Starkey

A longtime entrepreneur in Montgomery, Texas, Bill Starkey served as the CEO of Starkey Construction from 1978 to 2015. He delivered measurable results in custom-designed luxury residences and met clients’ specific needs. Emphasizing quality over quantity, Bill Starkey ensured that premium materials were used for building and finishing, and he used a wide range of classic architectural styles, including Georgian and Elizabethan.



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