Our smart buildings are like Jumbo Jets

In a world where sustainability is becoming increasingly important, it is vital that new buildings can stand the test of time as well as being capable of matching the rapid development of technology to prevent them becoming obsolete. 

We’ve recognised the issue and have developed a solution to this problem so that our projects can truly stand the test of time.

Jumbo Jets and smart buildings 

The Royal Academy of Engineering stated in the 2013 paper Smart Buildings: People and Performance

“The average working life of a Boeing 747 is approximately 50 years, during which time it is refitted about six times. The necessity of making frequent upgrades to its electronic, communications and other systems requires that the design allows old technology to be rapidly removed and replaced with minimal disruption to the fabric of the plane.” 

The report continues by then comparing the airplane to buildings: 

‘Buildings could be conceived as similarly upgradeable as technology changes, with elements added in such a way that they can easily be changed as technology and the building’s use develops.’ 

It is not a sustainable model to have buildings that become obsolete at all, yet alone after 50 years. The environmental and financial impact would be significant but also for the occupants the user-experience would be less than ideal as the building’s technology becomes dated. 

However, what if, as is the case with the Boeing 747, upgradability became a key consideration when designing buildings? This would lead to a modular approach which allowed systems to be replaced and removed at will without disrupting the building’s structure. 

Smart Core: Vanti’s solution for longevity in buildings 

Imagine all the systems in a single building. It might have CCTV, heating, air conditioning, desk booking, and so on, many of which will be reliant on connecting with each other to function correctly. 

Standard practice usually results in many of these systems only making the minimum number of connections to function correctly.  

Working like this presents a significant problem. If one of the systems that has multiple connections becomes obsolete or breaks, all the systems that are reliant on it will stop working whilst it is removed and replaced. 

Furthermore, there are multiple connections to break, and then rebuild, which contributes to a significantly more complex engineering problem. 

Therefore, in a worst-case scenario, if enough of the systems became obsolete, or broken, the building as a whole might become redundant and require knocking down. 

To prevent this happening, we developed a solution called Smart Core

Smart Core works by taking all of the systems present in a building and connecting them to one common software layer known as a Middleware. 

Integrating systems together like this means that should there be a requirement for a replacement, or upgrade, there is only ever one connection to break and remake. This makes for a significant reduction to downtime but also for a more efficient process overall as the engineering problem is significantly less complex. 

Working in this way extends the building lifecycle. Because the systems are modular, they can be removed or replaced at will without tampering with the physical structure. 

Designing for upgradability leads to sustainable buildings 

It’s not feasible for environmental or economic reasons to have to rebuild our buildings when the technology inside them goes out of date. If we design with solutions like Smart Core in mind, and embed upgradability into the fabric of the structure, our buildings will last longer and provide better user-experiences for longer. 

If you have a project that needs to be sustainable and easily upgradable and want to hear how we can help, please get in touch!