How smart buildings promote wellness
The built environment plays a very essential role in the productivity, safety, and the overall physical, social and mental well-being of its occupants. Office spaces that get hot with the afternoon sun lower the productivity rates of the personnel as the day progresses. Dark living rooms, overtime, affect the energy levels of users making them subconsciously dull and even depressing. On the other hand, well thought out interiors with proper lighting, ventilation, colours and décor items make the home not just a liveable place but a loveable escape from the world. This, essentially, is the psychology of space.
The need for healthy spaces can be achieved using building systems that integrate technology and create efficient systems to further cater to the health and well-being of its occupants. These are smart buildings- buildings with technical control over their own environment using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things). Not to be confused with green buildings, smart buildings integrate technology as an efficient solution for the functioning of a building. The former focuses on environmental sustainability and the overall effect of the building to the environment and its natural resources. With that, here are several ways intelligent building systems can be integrated to facilitate good health and well-being of occupants.
Indoor Climate Control
Intelligent buildings can analyse and monitor the indoor environment using sensors and make real-time adjustments that adapt to the comfort needs of the users in relation to the external weather conditions. The HVAC systems may then make adjustments accordingly also depending on the occupancy levels with minimal human control. This essentially creates an adaptable building, capable of adjusting lighting levels, temperature and humidity of the indoor air quality and the overall energy consumption of the building. Thermal comfort and indoor air quality is restored reducing chances of health conditions associated with lack of either or both.
Smart buildings create connected networks that communicate through various devices and can be programmed to serve the lifestyle needs of the user. For example, household items, appliances, computers, phones and security devices can be linked to suit one’s preferences within the smart home. In essence, the building becomes an extension of the resident and building automation is then enabled through digitalisation.
For example, to start the day on a positive note or happy mood, a home-owner can set up a home-controlled alarm in the bedroom as a stream of pleasant music playing over the home’s audio network, whilst opening the blinds. Or automatically set music to play in the bathroom while showering or taking a bath (the water temperature having been set automatically as well). These technological options cannot compare to having a jostling alarm clock waking you up or having to take your phone to the bathroom to enjoy some music. Combining the home, to the internet, wirelessly or through wired infrastructure offers countless opportunities limited only by budget and creativity to make one’s home a peaceful haven.
Finally, smart devices and mobile applications digitally connected to the building improves the experience of the occupant by connecting them to the building and facilitating building management and maintenance. This technology can also be used to remind individuals to take their medications, collect data from vitals and warn care professionals of any patient accidents or incidents. This increases the levels of emergency response or first responders in case of accidents
For additional peace of mind, intelligent systems can be created to centrally monitor access into the building and ensure the safety and security of its occupants. Smart sensors in combination with IoT analyses the flow patterns of building occupants to adjust and optimise safety resources and security personnel. This gives an additional layer of protection over the building users, property and built assets owned.
Smart buildings are a true testament that architecture paired with technology is a powerful combination enabling the building to be adaptive and have technical control of its environment for the overall benefit of the user.