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    The value of making buildings smarter.

    Smart Buildings are a new and rapidly developing phenomenon. The possibilities are legion and more are being introduced on a daily basis. You have probably heard of the term before, but what does it actually mean? We spoke to Wisse Stenchlak, director of Real Estate Services & Development at HEYDAY, about his vision on Smart Buildings.

    1. Could you tell us a little about your background with regard to Facility Management?

    “I developed my fascination with service and buildings during my Facility Management studies. I have always been interested in innovation. I am always drawn to discovering, inspiring and doing new things together. That also led to my interest in Smart Buildings. You have to stay up to date on what is available today and what will happen tomorrow. I am convinced that Smart Buildings have become an essential part of the field of facility management. That applies to the real estate sector as well. After all, more and more investors are coming to understand the value of making buildings smarter with regard to experience, efficiency and returns.”

    2. What makes a building a Smart Building, in your eyes?

    Wisse does not believe there is a single clear definition of this term. “It is not as clear cut as people tend to think. It is often believed that we talk about a Smart Building when said building is connected to a data platform and linked to a building management system and an array of sensors. That is not necessarily the case. In my eyes, it is about understanding the needs of a building's users and modifying the building to best suit those needs in real time. A non-tech environment can still be very smart, as long as a business manages to achieve its goals with it. Nevertheless, sensors can make processes a lot simpler and more efficient.”

    3. What kind of opportunities does it create for Facility Management and housing?

    “There is a lot of room for improvement in terms of efficiency. There's no question that one incredible building after another is being erected. Nevertheless, what an investor really wants is to achieve the highest possible returns with the lowest possible costs. Technology can help with that, but you have to be aware of the value it can offer. Ultimately, a Smart Building can boost the satisfaction of its users. It makes your building more hospitable. That makes us happy however you look at it.”

    4. Smart Buildings: philosophy or product?

    “To me, it is neither one nor the other. It can be a single product, a building or sensors that gather data. Yet it is not about these factors alone; it is also about users’ experiences. I prefer to look at it from a holistic perspective. Simply measuring ‘hard data’ is not enough, because it is ultimately about a goal you wish to achieve with regard to a building's users. Think of data-driven cleaning, for example. You don't know whether people actually perceive the building to be cleaner. That is another thing to consider: the combination of factual and subjective data.”

    5. What do you think the future holds for Smart Buildings?

    “I find it fascinating to watch the development of such technologies as Voice Control, Facial Recognition and Cognitive Technology and how these can affect buildings and their experience. Think of e.g. measuring emotions via facial expressions and voices. In the end, Smart Building is about making a building's entire experience more efficient. More important than the technology itself is the question of how far you want to go. The ethical discussion regarding our privacy will undoubtedly continue for years to come.”

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