A recent study seems to suggest that converting to smart building technology allows organizations to cut energy costs, meet air quality regulations and provide the best environments for occupants, visitors and staff.

So says Siemens Financial Services, which estimates that the potential for "self-financing" smart-building conversion may cross 13 countries in three sectors: commercial buildings; government buildings; and hospitals. In other words, there’s plenty of potential for innovation.

Accordingly, smart-building technology may cut energy use in nondomestic buildings by up to 25 percent and says that "each day not spent converting to smart buildings is a day in which valuable financial and environmental resources have been, in effect, wasted."

Gary Thompson of Siemens Financial Services said: "CFOs in the private and public sector are increasingly recognizing the compelling case for smart buildings conversion, but find it difficult to prioritize such capital investment over other business or operating requirements. The benefit of self-financing arrangements, which harness future energy savings, is that capital is no longer an obstacle."

Smart buildings use technology and data to improve building performance in areas such as energy, operations, security and comfort — lowering the costs of building operations and service, and generating higher user-satisfaction rates and employee productivity.

Smart-building technology allows facility managers the ability to incorporate automation to keep buildings secure, efficient and highly conducive for workers and occupants.

But a smart building designation refers to any facility that uses automated processes to automatically control the building’s physical operations, such as ventilation and heating, temperature, lighting, security, alarms and other systems through the use of sensors, microchips and actuators that automatically transfer and receive data from a computer.

Smart buildings are now a common trend among offices and establishments from various sectors, including hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, government offices, shopping centers, and more.

A "smart" building is smart once it core systems are linked. An example includes when the power, lighting, HVAC, water meters and fire alarms are controlled — at least in part — by sensors and control systems. Smart building designs can range from very simple and basic to more sophisticated infrastructure that sometimes includes even elevators and access systems, Smart & Resilient Cities reports.

Per the site, the advantages of smart buildings are fairly obvious. Reduced operation and energy consumption, preventive maintenance, improve efficiency and better use of resources.

However, creating a smart building requires a significant investment, but can be worth it in the long run. Automating lighting, room temperature and electricity usage can greatly help save money on utilities, for example.

The use of sensors also helps facility managers assess the condition and technical performance of machines and equipment, alerting facility managers whenever there is a need for immediate checks and repairs.

Facility managers can continually monitor building use and adjust systems to meet the needs of everyone, and can lead to improved productivity of workers.