Cisco Canada Blog

Win – Win Situation For Smart Buildings

February 12, 2013

Question: What could be better than building a Smart Building where the lighting, HVAC, security and access controls communicate together on a common network and lower operating costs by reducing energy consumption and maintenance? 

Answer: Building this Smart Building for less cost than a traditional building.

It may sound impossible, but we’ve done it. We have been working with property owners, developers, construction companies and architects to develop a Smart Building practice utilizing technology to provide not only greater control of the building systems, but to do so in a manner without incremental cost at the construction phase.  This is analogous to providing the benefits of 6-lane super highway for the same cost as a gravel road. 

Utilizing traditional construction methods, a building would require a combination of disparate networks for maintaining the building’s HVAC, lighting, security and access systems.  Economies can be driven by combining all these applications on to one common network and using HVAC, lighting, security and access controllers which incorporate Ethernet connectivity.  In addition to eliminating multiple networks, the use of IP native solutions provides deployment cost savings, as they do not require conduit and use lower cost twisted pair wiring.

In two recent opportunities, the ‘Smart Building Design’ drove over $400K of CAPEX cost out of the construction of a downtown Toronto hotel and over $600K cost out of a commercial office tower. The key to achieving these cost savings is being able to influence the design at the early architecture stage and the collaboration among the providers of the HVAC, lighting, security and access solutions working together in a win-win situation.

Not all companies have embraced this new way of designing and constructing buildings.  However, new Smart Building collaboration processes require consultants, architects and construction companies to step outside of their comfort zone.  In the future, this will become common practice as both clients and tenants demand greater energy conservation and increased amenities within their building. 

After all, who doesn’t want more for less?

Leave a comment


  1. Hi Ron,

    It is good that you too are seeing this “Pull” effect from the the property developers. However, I was with a London based Engineering Consultancy just last Thursday and the following terms were used by them in response to my question on the key requirements needed to be addressed in order they would consider a new innovative and market disruptive intelligent lighting solution to be seriously considered –

    1. Track record of success -(Problematic for innovative and market disruptive solutions)
    2. Ideally delivered by familiar organisations – (Problematic as is in item 3 above)
    3. Solution needs to address “Cost driven” market conditions – (For cost read price)
    4. Their “End Client”, namely the building developer, typically wants the least costly minimum solution possible and they will leave it to the tenant to pick up the cost of a proper solution.

    I even discussed their own positioning in their industry segment and how they compete and differentiate themselves but the responses were not encouraging. They showed little imagination or ingenuity in this respect.

    So as you say there is a long ways to go, some encouraging signs globally and every step forward builds momentum.

  2. Hi Ron,

    Excellent piece of work confirming what many of us believed at the technology solution provider end of the supply chain. Let’s hope both the End Clients and even more importantly the Consultants and M&E Contractors realise this. However, I wonder how reduced costs of smart and convergent building solutions impacts on the revenues of the in particular the M&E Contractors and whether they therefore prefer to stay with higher cost solutions?

    • Hi Mike
      Thank-you for your comments. We are seeing some very interesting developments where anchor tenants are putting increased demands on the property developer to deliver more flexibility and control to them in their own spaces. These clients typically have Corporate Social Responsibility programs and have a desire to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.
      With property developers looking for new ways to differentiate their properties and meet their tenant’s needs, they too are asking the Consultants and M&E Contractors to deliver more capabilities. If the Consultants and M&E Contractors want to be successful, they are giving serious consideration to these new practices and look to other services to keep themselves economically whole.
      While adoption has been a slow process, the push – pull of Tenant demands and Property developer desire to meet them, has resulted in progress.