Skanska is well positioned to deliver sustainable solutions for customers and societies. We want to build for a better society and through our services and products we aim to add value to the society. In order to support sustainability Skanska focuses efforts on five areas where we can impact and make a difference: Safety, Ethics, Green, Corporate Community Investment and Diversity & Inclusion. When we talk about sustainable smart buildings, we cover all these areas either during the life cycle of the building or during the construction process.

To start with – what is “a sustainable smart building”? If one searches Wikipedia, the definition for sustainable building refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle. On the other hand, when talking about smart buildings, we mean at the most fundamental level, buildings with useful building services that make occupants productive (e.g. illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, sanitation). However, most of us start immediately thinking about sensors, IoT (Internet of Things), mobile interfaces to manage spaces, etc. In our offerings we want to combine both value perspective and highly professional technical competence into a building that creates best possible value to the owner and users at the lowest cost and environmental impact over the whole building lifecycle. However, it is not always that straight forward.

Today we still need to acknowledge, that there is a dilemma with smart sustainable buildings that is related to the building life-cycle. Building automation and sensor technologies enable smart buildings and support broader implementation of green features. However, while most of us renew our computers or smart phones every three years or so, when adding smart features to buildings, we need to take into consideration the long life-span of buildings. Design life of a building is in general 50 years, warranty period 2 years and guarantee for hidden defects 10 years. And naturally after this all features of a building still need to function for a multitude of diverse users during the building life-span. This leads to some important requirements for a sustainable smart building: it shall be resilient due to technical solutions and simple to manage and maintain. Reliability, maintainability, flexibility and robustness has to be core features of a smart sustainable building. Thus in many cases one needs to prioritize between nice to have latest features available and sustainable reliable and robust features.

While smart in buildings still poses some challenges, smart at construction sites has become a new norm. BIM (Building Information Modeling) is used in most of design. Mobile devices and applications are used at construction sites to review designs, evaluate quantities, control quality and report on deviations. Observations and inspections on occupational safety are done via mobile devices. Machine guidance and Drones are used on many large projects to quantify and control work done in comparison to plans. Robots are being tested and used on some parts of construction. Virtual reality solutions support marketing and communication between project stakeholders. As projects are becoming more technical, larger and more complicated, information needs to be easily available, reliable, and transparent, which leads to integration between different systems and different dashboards. It is obvious that all this drive new and more efficient ways of working at sites, and pose challenges to construction workers in keeping up with technological development.

There is no stopping the development. As smart and sustainable features are increasingly built into buildings, we need to educate ourselves continuously about new possibilities and learn from pilots completed. Infrastructure and construction sector is an important player in the community, and we are expected to create greater value for taxpayers’ money. Thus we need to make sure that we can deliver more than only construction – our increasingly diverse teams need to build smartly and sustainably future-proof buildings to benefit the society into the far future.

‘Sustainable smart buildings built in smart ways is the way forward’ is what Tiina will talk about on stage at the Nordic Smart Building Convention, June 14th & 15th in Helsinki. See the full program here: