How smart, thinking buildings can help people feel better

My first few months as an executive for sales within Smart Buildings Division have coincided with a time of great anticipation around how workplaces will adapt as many of us return to offices.

Healthier & happier people  

In the past two years we’ve seen an acceleration in the evolution of the way we work, with the rapid uptake of virtual technologies and remote working. While the speed of this progress has brought positive change, the pandemic has also taken a physical, mental, or emotional toll on many. So, adapting workplaces to meet the new needs of employees is an opportunity to reimagine the relationship between buildings and the health of their occupants. 

As business owners reassess the size and the quality of the office space needed to serve a new kind of workday, integrating technologies for greater connectivity will be a key enabler not only for cost savings and efficiencies, but also to create healthier and more positive environments. Businesses who master that will gain both productivity, and a competitive edge. 

Healthier planet  

At the same time, the urgent need to address global warming and meet Paris Agreement targets has building owners striving to reduce the environmental impact of office buildings. Our customers are already using smart technology to reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 percent for heating, cooling, lighting, ventilation, security, and capacity. The digital energy and asset management systems used to enable these savings also capture vast amounts of data, and this information not only offers new insights to enable business owners to make decisions that are not only better for the environment, but also better support the health of building occupants.  

From buildings with smart technology to smart buildings 

Digital building systems use sensors to track numbers of occupants, along with their use of space and resources, enabling a ‘contactless’ environment, with less physical touchpoints. This can help create safe, personalized spaces for employees and visitors, especially during periods of stringent hygiene compliance.  

The combined application of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Cloud-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) and automation create a system that continues to get smarter and optimize itself over time. This can enable automated decision-making for example, on things like ventilation levels and flow of occupants, that benefit building occupants, as well as the planet.  

Not only will these ‘thinking buildings’ optimize themselves, but they will also enable business owners to make data-driven decisions that help create workplaces where people and technology work in harmony in healthier, more enjoyable environments. With dashboards to understand the performance of their buildings they can also take action to improve employee wellbeing for more enjoyable workplaces. 

With a direct correlation between how we feel and how we function, ‘thinking buildings’ are a game changer as we enter a new era for workplaces.  Whatever our individual working preferences, as humans there will always be times when we need to be together, in a real place. Thinking buildings can create places that are not just safe and sustainable, but also improve health and productivity for all.   

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About the author

Uwe Laudenklos

Uwe Laudenklos was appointed Division Marketing & Sales Leader for Europe, Canada, and Francophone Africa (ECFA) in ABB’s Electrification Smart Buildings Division in early 2022. In this position, Uwe is responsible for the global marketing and sales strategy for his appointed regions, ensuring growth and achievement of targeted sales, margins, market share and customer satisfaction. He is member of the Division management teams for both Smart Buildings and ABB Electrification’s Smart Power. Uwe began his career at ABB in 1993 and has held various management positions. In 2011, he became chairman of the management board of ABB Stotz-Kontakt in Heidelberg. In 2015, he took over the leadership of the Electrification business area in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. He assumed responsibility for the Electrification business in Northern and Central Europe in 2021 until taking on his current role in 2022. Uwe holds an electrical engineering degree from Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen in Friedberg, Germany and a Master of Business Marketing of Freie Universität of Berlin. Alongside his current role, Uwe acts as Board member for several professional associations in Germany and is a member of the Supervisory Boards of ABB AG Austria and Busch-Jaeger Elektro GmbH.
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