Smart building technology

The pace of change in terms of what new buildings are capable of is exciting and fascinating in equal measures and at Helical we are proud to be at the forefront of this fast emerging technology, delivering market leading buildings which optimise the comfort and experience of their occupiers.

The JJ Mack Building is an example of one of London’s very smartest buildings and sets the benchmark for future Helical projects. Some of the smart building technologies are outlined below.

Digital twin

The entirety of the building’s systems are modelled in a highly detailed “digital twin” allowing monitoring and control at building management, tenant and individual occupier level. In simple terms, this means that the whole building, including all physical structure and systems, is accurately digitally modelled such that it can be viewed in 3D on a screen.

This sophisticated and cutting edge technology allows the building’s systems to be controlled and operated from a central computer and gives real time visibility on all operational factors. It allows the whole building performance to be tailored precisely to the needs of the occupier and facilitates highly sustainable and considered operation.

Primarily used by the building management team, information from the digital twin also feeds directly into the bespoke JJ Mack app, available to all occupiers to make everyday life just that bit easier and better. Some of the features available to occupiers are featured below.

Access control

The app allows touch free access from the front door to your desk, enabling the individual user to scan in at the barriers and call a lift direct to their floor. Visitors to the building can be booked in directly via the app. A visitor will be sent a QR code which activates the entrance barriers, allowing direct access to the relevant floor.

Desk/meeting room booking

Depending upon the level of connectivity that tenants wish to implement as part of their fit out, the app can identify desks or meeting rooms that are available and enable them to be booked at the touch of a button. It is also possible to see when the desk was last occupied, by who, for how long and when it was last cleaned. Users can also see who is in the building in real time, allowing easy meet ups with key team members.

On floor controls

All systems within each floor are able to be controlled remotely via the app, including lighting, heating and (if installed) blinds. This can be controlled by floor, by zone or even by specific fan coil unit, blind or light fitting to allow the ultimate in space personalisation and individual comfort. Levels of control can be set by each tenant depending upon their specific needs.

Building info

The app contains easy to access information on the building; there is an occupier directory enabling links with other companies located within the building, amenity and event information and a library of detailed O&M manuals and guides. Users can also use the app to contact the building management team directly and report or track any issues being experienced.

External info

The app links directly to a number of external sources, providing real time weather and travel information specific to the building’s location, offering recommendations for entertainment in the local area and providing special offers directly from local operators such as special building discount rates for local gyms etc. The app can even identify how busy a particular station is to enable users to choose the optimum time to carry out their journey.

Building monitoring

Thanks to the digital twin, the app contains minute by minute data on all of the building’s systems which are able to be accessed to evaluate building performance in real time.

The building will have air quality sensors on each floor. These continually transmit data to the building systems which can be viewed on the app. The key factors which are monitored are breathable volatile organic compounds, humidity, CO2, temperature and particulate matter. Maintaining low levels of each of these contributes to optimum air quality. This will be continually monitored by the building management team as well as being viewable by occupiers. This data will also be replicated on in-building screens located in communal areas.

Movement sensors throughout the building will detect activity in specific areas which can lead to efficiencies, such as identifying areas which have had particularly high traffic and so will need cleaning and similarly, areas which have been vacant and so may not need immediate attention. These sensors can also identify areas which are particularly busy, such as reception, lifts and amenity areas, allowing occupants to make choices as to where in the building they wish to locate themselves at any one time.

Power consumption in the building is continually monitored and baselines can be set at building or floor level to minimise wastage and, combined with the real time occupancy data, to only provide power where it is required.

Water consumption is monitored and occupiers can directly access the water harvesting and recycling dashboards to quantify building performance.

Our research and development into the capabilities of smart building technology is an ongoing priority at Helical and we strive to continually be at the forefront of what is achievable.