How Smart Do Intelligent Buildings Need to Be?

Lester Shen, PhD
building and sky

Update: August 2021

Researchers have completed technology review and drafted an overview of their findings to send to the project’s technology advisory group members. The project team is also in progress on a literature review, and they have reviewed 36 papers so far to inform questions on a survey that will go out to manufacturers, designers, contractors, utilities, and technology and design research labs. In addition to the survey, the project team will conduct stakeholder interviews for further input on intelligent building technologies. Future phases of the project will also involve laboratory testing of said technologies.


Intelligent Buildings have enhanced operation, monitoring, and control, and promise greater energy efficiency, business productivity, and building security and safety. However, increased complexity and energy overhead — resulting from the supporting networking, sensors, and controls — is an overlooked consequences of connected devices and systems. Such overhead adds cost, energy load, and operations and maintenance complexity.

Instead of an “all of the above” approach to smart technology, this project will provide guidance for successful implementations that account for building type, space use, occupants, and operations and maintenance. The analysis, modeling, and surveys in this project will inform and support utility programs from networked lighting controls to grid-interactive buildings.

Project Summary


This market analysis will help optimize intelligent building systems to balance energy savings against these systems’ increased costs, baseloads, and operations and maintenance.


  • Task 1: Current statewide literature and technical overview
  • Task 2: Optimization of smart technologies for building space use
  • Task 3: Energy savings potential and cost-effectiveness
  • Task 4: Market opportunities and approaches
  • Task 5: Dissemination of findings

Non-energy benefits

  • Improved occupant comfort
  • Improved health and safety
  • Improved occupant productivity
  • Utility bill savings