The world’s very first international Intelligent Buildings Index (IB Index) is currently in development with version 1 of the standard to be released later this year.

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Associate Professor, Julie Jupp, said the index is a technical framework and classification system to measure a building’s intelligence.

“This industry-first open technology standard uses qualitative and quantitative IB performance measures to rate a buildings relative intelligence,” Jupp said.

“Utilising a state-of-the-art literature review, international stakeholder engagement and calibration against a global spectrum of smart buildings, the IB Index offers a technical framework and classification system upon which to support strategy development and decision making.”

Jupp said an international not-for-profit industry-sponsored body known as the International Intelligent Buildings Organisation was created last year to administer and develop the IB Index.

She said the body will also provide education on its use, consultation on its application and ongoing Research and Development (R&D) to ensure the index stays abreast of latest industry and technological advances.

“The IB Index in its current form has been under development since late 2018. The first stage of the development was funded by Willow in collaboration with EG Funds,” Jupp explained.

“Around mid-2019 Investa and Microsoft came on board as funding partners. This has allowed the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Washington (UW) to increase its central role in the index’s objective development and global data collection efforts.”

Properties currently being scored by the IB Index include 60 Martin Place, Sydney, which is owned by the Investa Property Group and Microsoft’s Redmond Campus in Washington.

Microsoft is currently overhauling its 500-acre campus in Redmond, Washington and is investing billions of dollars in redeveloping its existing assets. The development will take between five and seven years to complete, and includes 18 new buildings alongside new public or sporting spaces, transportation infrastructure, and a 2-acre open plaza that accommodates 2,000 people.

Microsoft currently has 125 buildings at the Redmond Campus, and once the project is complete, this will rise to 131 buildings.

Jupp admits the Index hasn’t been an easy tool to create but intensive R&D has led to the development of a multi-criteria decision analysis method that allows users to map “what is an input or enabler of building intelligence.”

“To be able to quantify how intelligent a building is requires an understanding of the different ways that a building can be considered intelligent. This includes all the IT-enabled products and/ or services that are utilised in the delivery of a smart building,” she said.

Because of the high levels of innovation in smart building technologies, or what is commonly known as proptech, we have avoided defining the IB Index’s measures via propriety tech specifications.

“Instead we have focused on descriptors of the functional capabilities that the IT enables and how this translates to different levels of building intelligence.”

The functional capabilities currently being tested in the Index cover three main input pillars: (1) Smart Project Delivery, (2) Smart Infrastructure, Devices and Applications, and (3) Smart Controls, Monitoring and Management.

“Across these three pillars we are currently calibrating around 190 indicators, with a hierarchical approach to scoring each capability,” Jupp said.

“Smart building technology should deliver benefits and value for tenants and the wider community, which is inherently linked to the triple bottom line of sustainability.”

Jupp said the question the delivery team must solve is how to ensure that the smart building will provide the right combination of economic and fiscal, social and behavioural, and environmental benefits.

“I think property developers have realised that smart buildings can and should be able to deliver on all three areas of sustainability. ‘Smart’ must therefore also encompass the underlying drivers and constraints of the business case, property market and regional tech-related infrastructure.

“Navigating how to specify and deliver a smart building according to these drivers and constraints - and then continue to support ongoing tech investment throughout the life of a smart building - is a complex undertaking.”

Jupp said another big driver is energy performance, as it is the common thread used to measure benefits according to the triple bottom line.

She said other important capabilities include building analytics and occupant feedback apps.

In a presentation to the Smart Building Summit, Jupp said the IB Index provides property developers and owners with a technical framework to reference when deciding what intelligent capabilities to include in a building with a set project budget.

“It creates more operating profit for building / facilities managers and can assist financial institutions and valuers to more accurately place a value on technologically intelligent buildings,” she said.

“Building and facility managers will have a roadmap to reduce operational costs and increase revenue.

“It will also benefit leasing agents as they will be able to share ROI in marketing communication, enabling tenants to make informed decisions about technology enabled benefits within their workspace.”

Jupp said designers, contractors and suppliers can also use the tool during project delivery to better understand their role and ability to offer value when partnering, procuring and implementing technology solutions to meet their client’s objectives.

She said the IB Index can also objectively assess value for financial institutions and property valuers in their assessment of smart buildings and funds management.

“We’re wrapping up the case studies at the end of March and will have our first beta release by the end of April,” Jupp said.

“Then we can produce our technical guidelines as we plan to develop an online tool by the end of 2020.

“As an open standard we’re excited to be delivering such a potentially transformational open standard to industry.”

 City of the future

 Meanwhile, Toyota is building a 175-acre smart city at the base of Japan’s Mount Fuji, about 62 miles from Tokyo.

Called the “Woven City,” the development is expected to be fully sustainable, powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Construction of the city will begin in 2021.

Toyota said the smart city will be a testing ground for technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and smart homes.

Initially, it will be home to a starting population of 2,000 Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, and scientists, who will test and develop the technologies.

Residents of the city will live in smart homes with in-home robotics systems to assist with daily living and sensor-based artificial intelligence to monitor health and take care of other basic needs.

To be designed by famed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the city’s roads will be dedicated to self-driving, zero-emission vehicles.

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