RIBA’s Smart Building Overlay: What does it tell us about the benefits of Smart Building Technology

RIBA's Smart Building Overlay

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published its Smart Building Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work to promote the use of smart building technology.

Developed with ScanTech Digital, Glider Technology, Kier and Hoare Lea, the 62-page free resource aims to support anyone involved with implementing smart building technology in the design of newbuild, retrofit or refurbishment projects.

RIBA’s Guidance: What are the benefits of smart building technology?

Section one of the Smart Building Overlay introduces smart building terminology and outlines the benefits of embedding smart building technology from the outset.

The RIBA Guide explains how, at a domestic level, smart building technology can be used to remotely and automatically manage heating, lighting, security, appliances, electric vehicle charging and air quality.

The document also addresses the benefits of smart building technology in the commercial sector – which is where Priva’s building automation technologies comes in. The Guide include in-depth explanations about how it can support business activity and space versatility and optimise management and maintenance regimes.

For example, in an office building, a system that automatically adjusts lighting and heating in response to weather conditions and occupancy levels can reduce energy consumption and operational costs as well as providing user comfort.

Smart building technology can also supply data on building performance, helping to evaluate and address operational energy usage, and mitigate safety risks.

Section one of the Guide concludes by exploring the relationships between the concepts of Smart Buildings, Building Information Modelling (BIM), Digital Twins and the National Digital Twin Programme – the UK government-led programme committed to growing national capability in digital twinning technologies.

A practical guide to implementing smart building technology

In section two of the Guide, the Smart Building overlay explains the practicalities of how smart building technology principles can be applied to projects of all scales and scopes.

Emphasis is given to the whole lifecycle cost of a building given some smart building technologies may not deliver a return on investment until several years after handover, whereas others may pay for themselves quickly and many times over.
The RIBA Guide urges consideration of the following key areas at the earliest opportunity:

  • Is there a requirement to meet Smart Building Certification?
  • What are the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ambitions?
  • Who may be potential building users?
  • Who will operate the building?
  • Change management; how will new technology impact existing ways of working?
  • What are the aims and objectives of the smart building?
  • Are any bespoke building works required to support the technology?
  • What are the future proofing strategies for future refurbishments / changes of use?
  • What is current, and possible future, legislative framework?

Commenting on the new guidance, RIBA President Muyiwa Oki, said: “As we are seeing increasingly in our overlays, early engagement and coordination is critical to successful outcomes and a cost-effective project. Industry feedback is consistent in reporting that smart building designers are not included early enough in concept design discussions and are instead an afterthought, too late in the design process to meet client aspirations, project outcomes and to even dissect the client’s requirements into tangible smart building technology.

“The RIBA Plan of Work* supports a linear process of working, which as project complexity evolves, may result in a more circular approach to work stages where early engagement is not considered.

“Where technology is involved, it would be remiss to not also cover procurement. The overlay also addresses the sensitivity of ‘current’ technology and future planning – not just to anticipate emerging technology, but to also allow for the timeline from design to delivery. It is therefore important that procurement routes are discussed early and, where possible, specialist design incorporated at the earliest opportunity.”

*Never heard of the RIBA Plan of Work? Here’s an explanation:

The RIBA Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, constructing, and operating building projects into eight stages and explains the stage outcomes, core tasks and information exchanges required at each stage. Guidance in the RIBA Plan of Work 2020 Overview is based on nearly seven years of feedback, gathered by the RIBA, from the construction industry.

Learn the secrets to ‘fast-track’ digital transformation

If you want to develop a more tailored digital transformation plan for your buildings – Priva is here to help. We offer a wide range of white papers and content to help you on your way.

Download our FREE whitepaper. Or, check out our dedicated offering for smart buildings solutions.

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