• Labonte, D., Gagnon, M., Rostami, M., Voll, M., Baker, R., Bannon-Godfrey, R., Ely, S., Amin, S., Tisdale, T. (2021). Intelligent Buildings: Layout and Relevant Standards. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

Intelligent buildings continue evolving in concept and practice. This results from technological innovations generating new functionalities and changing priorities of building owners and operators that shape how these technologies are applied. For example, inexpensive sensors have made data collection more economical, and innovations in communication technologies have facilitated greater flows of data within buildings that can then be used to inform how buildings are operated.

Modern buildings are serviced by a wide variety of building subsystems (e.g., building management, lighting, fire safety, security, heating ventilation and air conditioning, etc.). These subsystems facilitate building operation and support occupant comfort and safety. Increasingly, intelligent buildings are associated with numerous characteristics, such as energy efficiency, automated operations, reduced environmental impacts, and responsiveness to both occupant needs and external variables typically resulting in greater occupant well-being.

Beyond the buildings themselves, innovations in the Smart Cities space, and within the energy and water sector, have increased the potential integration of buildings into these larger components of energy transition and fourth industrial revolution. However, while intelligent buildings have great potential, in practice there are still challenges to deploying them in ways that capture their full potential. Standards developed for intelligent buildings will help this sector progress towards its potential.

To understand the value and potential for intelligent building standards, this report reviews existing literature, conceptualizes the potential for intelligent buildings, analyzes the current standards landscape, surveys intelligent building stakeholders, and develops suggested next steps for pursuing intelligent building standards.

Through the literature review and standards landscape review, some key insights and gaps emerge. They include a lack of consistent definitions, interoperability challenges, cost implications, cybersecurity and privacy concerns, and lack of building-level focus. By exploring potential intelligent building system layouts, this report discusses how a whole building-level approach can help maximize intelligent building design benefits by reducing the application of redundant systems; creating consolidated communication networks offering greater functionality and fewer cybersecurity vulnerabilities; and supporting coordinated building management.

In addition, the project also sought the input of diverse intelligent building stakeholders. A survey was conducted to gauge stakeholder interest in intelligent building standards being developed and validate initial project findings. Overall, the stakeholders surveyed reinforced research findings. Interoperability was identified as the biggest intelligent building standards gap to be addressed. The most concerning barrier survey participants identified for deployment of intelligent buildings was cybersecurity risks. Participants indicated broad support for intelligent buildings standards being developed.

Based on the research conducted in this report, intelligent building standards development warrants further exploration. Some key initiatives for supporting intelligent buildings standards include: identifying concurrent intelligent building initiatives; developing consistent terminology; establishing stakeholder advisory committees and working groups to join actors across intelligent buildings layers and address key gaps; developing intelligent building case studies to understand current practices; and advancing the role of intelligent buildings technology considerations in the evolving smart cities landscape.

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