Smart buildings; Smart buildings;

Smart buildings

Intelligent systems and connectivity for more efficient, healthy and productive buildings

Intelligent systems and connectivity for more efficient, healthy and productive buildings

Today, every building or asset is capable of becoming an intelligent physical environment, one that owners, operators and tenants can control and manage in increasingly useful ways. Arup is at the forefront of efforts to bring built assets into the digital age, unifying data standards, and plugging systems together in virtual models that can lower energy use, reduce costs, and offer previously impossible levels of user interaction and control.

Although the latest generation of commercial developments often feature digital building system integration, if the built environment is to become truly sustainable, existing buildings will benefit from these features and services. Arup designs digital systems and processes that can unify the data that buildings generate, so that functionality is not lost between individual systems.

Our smart buildings teams combine deep buildings expertise with digital skills. Our service combines consulting, design and software creation, and we work with clients worldwide.

The smart building process

We start by helping client organisations to understand what’s possible, desirable and practical – before commencing a 4-stage process:

  • Define

    At the start we identify the improvements in productivity and space utilisation required. Health and wellbeing targets can be set too, before specifying the technology and data services necessary. This is also the moment to define the operational changes required to meet an organisation’s particular net zero goals.

  • Design and deliver

    Our smart building designs integrate building and sensor network systems enabling advanced analytics that monitor, measure and manage the building in the most efficient way. We document our designs in detailed specifications to ensure future-proof and cost-effective solutions, in ways simple for the supply chain to work with.

  • Enable

    Existing buildings can be retrofitted with smart features. Our ‘property insight’ process identifies then enables connections between every building system, working to open data standards.

    The result is a building that has gained secure and highly functional intelligence, enabling portfolio level integration for those with multiple buildings or sites.

  • Optimise/ operate

    Once the smart building process is complete, the property insight dashboards we produce enable optimisation of ongoing operation and performance.

    We have also developed apps that use machine learning to turn patterns of user behaviour and preference into useful predictions and intelligence – on everything from cooling system operations to occupancy levels or sustainability performance.

The benefits of smart buildings

So, why invest in a smart building? The level of integrated insight produced means that building owners can boost productivity, improve user health and wellbeing, and establish a consistent user experience across multiple sites and locations. Smart buildings also provide new ways to meet users’ ever increasing digital expectations, whether it’s personal control of the environment, acoustics, lighting, space booking or audio/visual features. Smart buildings provide new ways to understand and manage occupancy too – an agenda that has only grown in importance post-pandemic.

Smart buildings and net zero

The climate emergency is increasingly challenging the operation of the built environment. Travel through any city late at night and you can see how much energy is being wasted on building services that no one is using. Smart buildings are a critical component in the race to achieve net zero operations.

Our teams help clients to operate buildings or assets so that they provide real-time services tuned to occupancy, avoiding wasted energy on heating, lighting and air-conditioning. Investing in smart building technology also makes meeting regulatory and reporting requirements like NABERS and GRESB much easier. And with regulations around energy and resource use tightening every year, the unified digital monitoring and insights we can provide will ensure a building or asset stays ahead of the rules.

Meeting the investor agenda

Investors are paying increasing attention to the data governance dimension within real estate projects. They are increasingly seeking assurance that buildings meet common data standards, with an expectation that asset and user data is interoperable and secure. It must also be auditable and compliant with evolving regulatory standards.

Investors are also conscious of energy and resource regulations, and effective data infrastructure is a vital part of meeting these requirements. Of course, digital services are also pivotal to a site or asset remaining attractive to future tenants and occupiers. Together, these factors are making smart buildings the new standard for all real estate investments.

Portfolio level insights

The smart buildings approach gains in value when applied to a whole portfolio, applying hardware and software uniformly across each site. It enables automation of reporting on energy use, health, occupancy, air quality, energy use, and other performance metrics. It offers operators a new level of commercial insight, improving decision making. It also means an organisation can promise (and deliver) the same experience to users and tenants across each site. And by embracing common standards, it means that technology suppliers and partners can also easily scale and implement the services required, including digital wayfinding, user environmental controls, and more.

Featured project

British Land smart buildings strategy

In 2018, we partnered with British Land on their smart buildings strategy, which they now use to apply common technical and digital standards, and each brief on every new building within their estate. The first building built to the new standard, 1 Finsbury Avenue, is now complete. We are currently designing the smart buildings concepts and specifications on British Land’s 2 Finsbury Avenue mixed use development in the City of London.

Find out more about our smart buildings services and tools

Planning for digital

Planning for digital

Arup conducts a digital planning process right at the start of major schemes. It brings rigorous design definition to any proposed project or programme, ensuring the built environment offers developers, owners, and users the digital services they want and need.

Digital twin

Digital twin

The purpose and value of digital twins varies from client to client, sector to sector. But what they all share is the ability to feed previously disparate data sources into a unified picture of how a business or asset is operating.

Our service, as consultants and technologists who understand the built environment, is to work with your organisation to develop a twin that connects these information sources, building a digital twin that generates valuable intelligence every day.

Find out more about our digital twin expertise

Property Insight

Property insight

Property Insight is a tool designed by Arup to bring data integration to any building and drive a more sustainable built environment. It unifies all the performance data produced by the building’s many systems, helping you to fully understand the building for the first time. As a service it combines deep domain expertise in the structure, engineering of buildings with powerful data analytics, to produce a digital tool is tailored to you.

Learn more about the property insight process


Arup Neuron

Neuron is an app that integrates our insights into the built environment with emerging digital technologies into a single platform. It uses 5G and the Internet of Things to gather real-time ‘sense data’ from equipment and systems and BIM to display these complex data sets through a cloud-based, centralised management console. Neuron’s ‘brain’ uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse, optimise and automate operations.

Learn more about Neuron

Interactive design

Interactive design

We have a skilled visual interaction design team, able to present your data in intuitive control systems and transform the communications between people and their environments.

Talk to our experts