Case study: Office building’s smart potential

An office building renovation project included a host of considerations to retrofit the space into a smart building

By Owen Dalton and Sal Bonetto September 30, 2020

Contracted directly by the owner, the smart building consultant was involved in the planning, design and construction of a 30,000-square-foot office renovation project. To provide the best value to the owner, the smart building consultant delivered the smart building project within the framework of the overall construction project.

The concept is simple, shared data between traditionally siloed systems can make the entire ecosystem smarter, more informed and useful. In this project, lighting control data is communicating back and forth to the building automation system and to core business systems, allowing the organization to use data to make their employees happier, healthier and more productive.

Smart building planning

Observation: The consulting arm of the smart building consultant specialized in workplace strategy and took a deep dive into how the organization communicated and worked in its existing physical environment.

Visioning: The organization revisited many of its core values when weighing the commitment to pursue smart building applications. As the owner’s values aligned with many of the initiatives that the smart building consultant was proposing, specific use cases were developed based on the observations of the workplace strategy team. Ultimately, the smart building consultant secured buy-in from the owner with the understanding that the true return on investment of these solutions would be realized during operation.


  • Productivity.
  • Efficiency.
  • Improvement and learning.
  • Wellness.
  • Appraisals.

Financial modeling: Cost estimating was performed for each use case. Below is an example of how this was presented for the lighting control informs room scheduling use case.

Design of integrated systems

Use case tool: This tool provided helpful organization of integration sequences and smart building applications that everyone could discuss and discover. It became a guide for the team moving from visioning through design and into construction. Sorting use cases into energy, real estate and people helped the team identify the highest value solutions for the organization.

Energy efficiency (1 times value):

  • Lighting informs heating, ventilation and air conditioning: Notification of occupancy status from the lighting control system triggers occupied or unoccupied sequence of control in the HVAC system for that room or zone.

Building performance (10 times value):

  • Room scheduling informs HVAC: The HVAC system preheats/precools room 15 minutes before meetings start time based on accepted number of occupants as load setpoints versus design day setpoints.

People efficiency/human wellness (100 times value):

  • Lighting informs room scheduling: Occupancy status from the building automation system feeds enterprise-level email and room scheduling application with real-time occupied or unoccupied status. The room scheduler displays real-time status as users interact with room scheduling tool.
  • Circadian rhythm lighting: The lighting control platform initiates a correlated color temperature shift of tunable white power over Ethernet luminaires in relation to date and time.
  • Space use studies: An HVAC zoned control adjusts setpoints based on actual occupancy versus design day occupancy conditions. The building automation system collects and stores trend data for every 15-minute interval for at least one year.

Smart building responsibilities

Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology drawings and specifications review (consultant):

  • PoE lighting: A PoE lighting and control system was determined to be of highest value to support the integration needs of the project; it also aligned with the owner’s core values. The smart building consultant helped steer the design team through the entirety of the cross-disciplinary lighting system, with hardware and software specified from both Division 26 and 27.
  • Division 23, 26 and 7 review: The smart building consultant coordinated requirements and reviews of these sections to comply with integration criteria.

Integration automation drawings (specifier):

  • Integration drawings were issued to communicate design intent.

Division 25 specifications (specifier):

Specifications were issued to communicate products and services required to deliver the smart building solutions.

Construction is currently underway on this project and the smart building consultant is working to help deliver the use cases and smart building solutions identified above.

Author Bio: Owen Dalton is trained as a lighting designer and electrical engineer. He is helping grow Cannon Design Integration Services, a smart building consulting group at CannonDesign. Sal Bonetto leads the technology services group at CannonDesign.