Technology in Smart Buildings: Sensors

Smart Buildings use automated processes to manage and control operations such as HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), lighting, security and a variety of other systems. This managed through a wide and integrated network of sensors, microchips and actuators. This provides a stream of raw data that can then be converted into insights and analytics. 

Key Building Systems That Are Improved by Sensors 


Lighting plays an integral role in the development of Smart Buildings due to it being both easy to install and control. Lighting within buildings is being rapidly upgraded from stand-alone systems to full connected digital infrastructures, integrated to the entire building. These lighting systems are central to building management, energy efficiency as well as occupant engagement, productivity and comfort. 


Technology for security systems includes an integrated system of fire, intrusion detection and access control through HD video surveillance, analytics and cyber-secure communications that encrypt and securely store data. As Smart Technologies evolve, so do security solutions and the best security systems are integrated with building systems to deliver the maximum value. 


HVAC systems control how air is moved throughout the building and are responsible for heating and cooling. Smart HVAC systems make use of multiple sensors to automate HVAC operation. The result is improved power efficiency and better control of the system. 

Common Sensors 

The most common types of sensors are: 

  • Temperature 
  • Humidity 
  • Motion/ occupancy   
  • Air quality 

Temperature Sensors 

Used to detect changes in temperature, they’ve been used for decades to control heating and air conditioning. However, with the emergence of IoT, businesses can now program the buildings ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems to maintain ideal conditions. It can also be used to detect failure or faults as they happen. 

Humidity Sensors 

Humidity sensors in buildings are used to let you maintain and control heating, ventilating and air conditioning They’re particularly useful in any environment that’s very sensitive to moisture such as hospitals, museums and manufacturing plants. 

Motion / Occupancy Sensors 

Motion sensors are found both in appliances we use every day such as automatic doors and home security systems to trigger an alert when motion is detected. When used in a Smart Building, they can be used to automate building controls like heating and lighting depending on how and when space is occupied. Being able to use space more efficiently can lead to huge cost savings, not to mention increased productivity and can reduce both energy consumption and running costs. 

Gas / Air-Quality Sensors 

Gas and air quality sensors are used to monitor changes to air quality and detect the presence of hazardous gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen or general air pollution. Without these sensors, the effects of poor air quality can affect people’s comfort and wellbeing as well as their productivity. As employers are responsible for providing a healthy working environment, air quality sensors are becoming more and more the norm to maintain air quality. 

This was just a very brief rundown of some of the types of sensors used in Smart Buildings. Next week we’ll be looking at visualisation methods for Smart Buildings and how that applies to what we do here at Allander Analytics. 

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