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Groundbreaking Technology Powers Smart Building Solutions

smart building solutions

Smart buildings are the future—and they are here today thanks to state-of-the-art technology that can pay for itself through more sustainable operations. Smart building solutions collect meaningful data from IoT devices such as access control sensors, plant sensors, physical security systems, conference rooms, lighting, and fire alarms—displaying it in one 360-degree view.

Why is this important? Because a holistic view and real-time data analytics enable businesses to use power more efficiently, reduce a building’s environmental footprint, and lower overall operational costs. And with today’s commercial buildings consuming 35% of electricity in the U.S. while wasting about a third of the energy they use, sustainability is a top priority for almost every organization.

Employees also benefit from smart building technology through a safe and more comfortable environment, efficient use of conference rooms, general upkeep, and a pleasant place to work.

“We are at the helm in making this future a reality—integrating and deploying innovative solutions that offer uplifting environments that intertwine nature, integrate technology throughout, and are fully immersive,” says Matt Tyler, Wachter’s Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Business Development at national solution and service provider Wachter, Inc.

Discovering the Wonder of Wachter

To showcase these revolutionary solutions in action, Wachter turned its 34,000-square-foot Mount Laurel, New Jersey headquarters into a Customer Experience Center—a live model for ideation and discovery. “This is a space where we bring new technologies to life so our customers can view and experience game-changing capabilities before deploying them in their businesses,” says Tyler.

For example, the building’s biophilic lighting system, provided by Signify—a leader in energy-efficient lighting solutions—uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology to monitor and control power delivery over the network, reducing drain on the power grid and lowering operating costs.

“This is a space where we bring new #technologies to life so our customers can view and experience game-changing capabilities before deploying them in their businesses” – Matt Tyler, @WachterInc via @insightdottech

The PoE-connected lighting also allows people to reestablish their vital biological connection to the cycles of natural light. For example, the system measures sunlight coming in through windows, changing the intensity and hue of overhead lights to keep pace with its rhythms throughout the day. Studies have shown that maintaining this connection with nature enhances productivity and well-being. And if too much light and heat come in, the blinds are automatically lowered. If it’s still too hot, the software directs the HVAC system to turn on the air conditioning.

Human-centered energy systems don’t end with lighting. Body heat sensors reveal occupancy, switching off lights and heat when the office is empty and adjusting temperature settings as people enter and leave a room. No one must get up to change the thermostat.

Not only does the Signify solution deployed by Wachter uniquely create a pleasant workplace but also enables a more sustainable one. Wachter enables an unprecedented opportunity to increase sustainability, which also lowers operational costs.

Autonomous Decisions with Real-Time Analytics

Wachter’s technology—also deployed in its Customer Experience Center—streamlines maintenance, using a platform developed by AI IoT company Scenera. The solution collects and analyzes sensor data throughout the building with real-time analytics about energy savings, alarm safety, and surveillance in a single dashboard for seamless monitoring. 

With the Scenera platform, occupancy data determines cleaning times based on daily use, reducing the need for help in a time of labor shortages. Data from water and pH sensors—embedded in oxygen-producing green plants in the facility—is sent to a service company when they need attention, rather than on a set schedule, lowering costs.

Wachter uses the Scenera solution as part of its CEC to showcase how data in an office setting can be collected and used to make autonomous decisions. A great example is tracking the number of people entering the building, combined with outside weather data showing rain or snow, and alerting facilities management that the front entrance should be inspected for slipping hazards.

“The building is intelligent enough to say that there is something wrong and here’s what to do about it,” Tyler says. “Video cameras alert security if objects block emergency exits. Leak detectors direct maintenance crews to fix faucets or toilets before employees start to complain. HVAC data is crunched to spot and diagnose problems, summoning technicians while avoiding the need for disruptive troubleshooting.”

Like Signify, Scenera uses advanced Intel IoT technology, which enables AI-powered data analytics from edge to cloud. “Intel is the backbone in making it all happen. It’s proven, reliable technology that works,” Tyler says. “It’s our standard and it’s predominantly our customers’ standards as well.”

Lower Costs with Smart Building Solutions

Today’s smart building solutions aren’t just for offices. In a retail setting, they can add value in unexpected ways. For example, in a U.S. grocery chain, Wachter deployed Signify technology called Visible Light Communications (VLC). This groundbreaking solution leverages “smart” lightbulbs to send customers navigation instructions. LED bulbs emit infrared light, invisible to humans but captured by cellphone cameras. If a customer creates a shopping list on the grocer’s app and enters the store, the navigation system swings into action, displaying the most efficient path for collecting desired items.

The app also uses AI to scan customers’ shopping lists and make upselling suggestions. “If you’re buying pasta and sauce, it might say, ‘This red wine would pair very well with the dinner you’re planning—you can pick it up here for a 10% discount’,” Tyler says.

Grocers can also use VLC navigation to assist the pickers who assemble customer orders for delivery services. Finding people who know the store layout well enough to pick efficiently can be challenging, Tyler says: “With this solution, you can hire someone who has never been in the store, and they can pick groceries as efficiently as a 10-year veteran.”

VLC illustrates how flexible IoT applications have become. Store managers can deploy it through a single LED bulb or swap out all their light fixtures for LEDs. They can connect to power through existing wiring or use a newer method that delivers it through Ethernet cables. PoE lighting can be faster to install, and in many jurisdictions, there’s no need for a licensed electrician to do it.

Either way, LED lights save energy, consuming just 10 to 12 Watts to emit the same amount of light as a 150-Watt incandescent bulb.

A More Efficient Future

The more connected that smart buildings become, the less time people need to spend managing them. “Buildings will eventually be fully aware of their surroundings and inform everyone of what needs to be done to make things right. They are going to be so connected and intelligent that you won’t need a facilities manager,” Tyler says.

By helping businesses understand and deploy smart building innovations, Wachter is at the forefront of this revolution, helping to create a future in which both energy and labor are deployed with maximum efficiency, freeing people to use their highest skills while feeling more comfortable in their surroundings.

Edited by Georganne Benesch, Editorial Director for