How Smart Do Intelligent Buildings Need to Be?

Lester Shen

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 — are overlooked consequences of connected devices and systems. Such overhead adds cost, energy load, and operations and maintenance (O&M) 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 O&M. The analysis, modeling, and surveys in this project will inform and support utility programs from networked lighting controls to grid-interactive buildings.  

This project is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program, which is funded by Minnesota ratepayers.  

Project Info


Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) grant program



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


  • Current statewide literature and technical overview
  • Optimization of smart technologies for building space use
  • Energy savings potential and cost-effectiveness
  • Market opportunities and approaches
  • Dissemination of findings  

Non-energy benefits

  • Improved occupant comfort

  • Improved health and safety

  • Improved occupant productivity

  • Utility bill savings  

Lester Shen