In the rush to advance building energy efficiency and space-use efficiency, a gap occurred in the most critical performance category of all: people.

It’s easy to see why staff performance could be overlooked. Measuring people output isn’t as easy and precise as measuring kilowatt-hours or BTUs. Yet the outsized benefit of even a fractional bump in people performance dwarfs other efficiencies. Just ask global real estate leader JLL. Their widely publicized 3-30-300 Rule for the total cost of occupancy illustrates the exponential value of people.

Today a growing number of architects recognize the gap and use it to win commissions through holistic smart building design. This comprehensive, human-centric differentiator is a powerful way to position the design practice as specialists in meeting the client’s talent acquisition, retention, engagement, and productivity requirements.

Photo © Eric Laignel of Perkins and Will
Photo © Eric Laignel of Perkins and Will

Matt Ochs understands. Ochs is the director of commercial product management for Lutron, the prominent lighting control company. He works closely with architects and their partners to create spaces that enhances staff comfort, productivity, and personalization.

5 Winning Steps In Smart Building Design

  1. Think Holistically. To illustrate the big picture, Ochs tells a story about a big window. “Recently we arranged to tour a very high-profile new smart building. On entering the impressive lobby, we noticed everyone was wearing sunglasses. It didn’t take long to figure out why. Direct sunlight was shining right into occupants’ faces making it very uncomfortable. This lobby typifies the type of holistic thinking that’s required. Yes, sunlight is great. But if it isn’t managed properly, it hurts everyone’s productivity and comfort.”
  2. Engage the Lighting Designer Early. “Get your lighting designer involved early. Help them understand the owner’s requirements and project scope. The lighting designer needs to think holistically through the sequence of operations for each space, including the management of daylight. You want occupants to use the space in the most effective manner. Early lighting designer involvement is key,” Ochs says.
  3. Invite Personal Control. “Using sensors and programming to automate heating, cooling, lighting, security, and other building functions is an excellent capability. However, staff should have a simple, easy way to tailor those capabilities to their liking,” advises Ochs.
  4. Understand the WELL Building Standard. Ochs knows LEED certification often dominates smart building conversations. But the WELL Building Standard is one of the best ways architects can “present themselves as knowledgeable experts in smart building design. It’s a great first step into creating spaces focused on people.”
  5. Demonstrate Value. Establish your smart building design authority by citing results, like this recent pre- and post-occupancy analysis from ASID. “Anytime an architect hears, ‘It’s too expensive,’ it probably means the owner doesn’t understand the value,” Ochs says. “It’s not expensive if you can show value.”
Photo © James Steinkamp Photography
Photo © James Steinkamp Photography

In today’s competitive architecture environment, it has never been more important to show a sophisticated, holistic understanding of smart building design. Partner with companies that can bring the weight of experience and reputation excellence to your projects.

Please take the time to read about the Zurich case study, a corporate campus designed to maximize the comfort and productivity of its work environment.

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