Buildings learn to make manager’s job easier

BUILDING managers’ lives are becoming easier as buildings get smarter.

Technology Park park manager Doug Harvey said ‘intelligent’ buildings made long-term building management more time-effective.

“A property manager’s role is becoming more than just looking after bricks and mortar,” Mr Harvey said.

“It is becoming quasi-facilities management – towards ensuring tenant and owner satisfaction.

“People just aren’t satisfied with good enough. They want total control of their environment.”

Edith Cowan University Security Science lecturer Kevin Foster said intelligent buildings were nearing the stage where they could anticipate a tenant’s needs.

Mr Foster said such buildings had three functions built in – building management, computer-aided space management and business management.

Automated building management systems are common and many buildings have computer-aided space management.

Now, business management systems are being included in third generation intelligent buildings

rising in Asia, the US and Europe.

Mr Foster project managed the building system’s design of Singapore’s latest – and possibly greatest – intelligent building.

In the building, due to open in 2000, the electronic building management infrastructure cost around $16 million.

One example of the building’s intelligence can be found in its car park operations.

A tenant organising a meeting with a client enters the client’s car licence plate number and expected time of arrival into the building’s management system.

When the client arrives, the car park recognises the number plate and guides the person, using electronic notice boards, to the space that has been reserved.

At the building’s reception, the person is given a smart card programmed with details such as who the person is meeting and where.

These details can be used by the building to ensure the person does not end up in the wrong place.

The tenant can even book a meeting room and, at the nominated time, the building management system turns on the lights, phones and air conditioning systems for the meeting room. If

facilities allow it will probably even make the coffee.

Mr Foster said Australia had no intelligent buildings on a par with Singapore although there were several mooted for Sydney and Melbourne.

“Singapore, in particular, has been very focussed on intelligent buildings, due to its government’s Information Technology 2000 plan that aims to make IT available to everyone,” Mr Foster said.

Consultel director Mercer Bailey, whose company was also involved with the Singapore building, said Australian developers would not put the level of technology into a building unless it added to leasing value.

“The demand for these sort of intelligent buildings will come from the occupants,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’re seeing that now with some prospective tenants wanting to know the IT bandwidth capabilities of a building.”

Property Council of Australia WA Branch president Brett Wilkins said intelligent buildings would be of increasing importance to WA’s property market.

“The next round of Perth’s office buildings will be of that ilk,” Mr Wilkins said.

Mr Foster said developing a sophisticated intelligent building was difficult due to the time needed for the construction process.

“Some of the intelligent technologies were developed specifically for the building,” he said.

“When we started designing it in 1996 we were trying to determine what technology would be available in 2000. It was hard to cost.

“Many building owners wait until the technology is available and then buy it off the shelf.”

WA companies have the capabilities to be major players in the design and construction of intelligent buildings.

WA-based closed circuit television company Maxipro was involved along with Consultel in the Singaporean building and with the growing use of smart cards in these buildings, local smart card provider ERG also looms as a major player.

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