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Smart Construction to Support Smart Buildings

How to approach bandwidth, technology, and adaptability in the workplace.

If you put 12 people in a room and asked them what a smart building is, you’d get a dozen different answers. It’s a complex topic. If you ask Drew Deatherage, this is what he’ll tell you.

“In 2024, data isn't a problem. We get data input from 1,000 directions. The problem is being able to turn that into actionable information. So, in my mind, a smart building is one that gives me actionable information. Then I can automate that information to make a building safer, healthier, and more connected.

He’d know. As the co-founder and executive vice president of business development at Crux Solutions he spends a lot of time thinking about this stuff. He may have the most high-voltage metal name in world of IT, but his focus is low-voltage systems design and consulting. “Just a fancy way of saying we do all the stuff the architect and the engineer don't want to do,” he says. Everything from AV gear to security systems and all the network infrastructure to support it.

"Any building you build in 2024 is going to have a lot of smart stuff in it. You’re creating buildings today in the modern era with a lot of intelligence, but they aren't helping you until we start sharing the data across all those systems. Now we can start to make good decisions with the data from all those intelligent systems in the building.”


A growing market

All that data means that the market for smart buildings is growing. A lot. Part of it is improving technology. Part of it is the growing need for collaboration. This translates to billions of dollars according to MarketsandMarkets​. Their report indicates that the smart building market size will reach $121.6 billion by 2026. And Fortune Business Insights ​expects to see this growth reach $408 billion by 2030. That’s a lot of network cable.

As data speeds increase and technology accelerates, the need for greater bandwidth grows with it. Everyone relies on it daily to do their job. These networks don’t just empower communication. They’re the backbone for smart building innovation, advancing energy management, security, maintenance, and tenant services.​ It’s critical for smart buildings to be able to keep up.

“One of the tenets of a of a smart building is that it be future ready,” says Deatherage. He cites his experiences and sources like Moore's Law, but the high-level takeaway is this: for seamless building operation and long-term readiness, optical LAN networks are a best practice. Compared to copper network cabling, it offers a more secure delivery system. And when you consider that copper cable is ripped out and replaced approximately every decade, optical LAN infrastructures offer considerable longevity.

“I'll tell you today that with the glass we use for fiber optics, there is no theoretical limit to the amount of data we can push across that piece of glass,” says Deatherage. “I'm not going to say it's future proof and it will never change, but I can safely say within our lifetimes, we'll never need to replace that fiber infrastructure.”

Drew Deatherage, executive vice president of business development, Crux Solutions

It's more like what you assume with the electrical system in your house. Do you assume that you're going to have to rip out all the wires in your wall every five to 10 years? Of course not. That's silly. Why do we expect that with our data networks?

Drew Deatherage, executive vice president of business development, Crux Solutions

Optical LAN networks will not have to be replaced in our lifetime

IMAGE CREDIT: Zooropa Media

The impact of smart buildings

The price tag associated with smart buildings doesn’t come without benefits. This blend of architecture, technology, and human-centered design leads to efficient, occupant-centered spaces.

  • Optimized power use promotes energy conservation and sustainably.

  • Air quality, noise control, and lighting control all support health and well-being.

  • Advanced technology supports connectivity and cyber security

  • Resource efficiency supports sustainability goals.

  • State-of-the-art security, fire safety, and disaster management delivers safety benefits

  • Modular future ready fiber optic networks can evolve over time

“COVID did mostly bad things, but one of the things it did bring attention to is, why the hell aren't we paying attention to what's happening inside the spaces we work in?” says Deatherage. “What I love now is that for relatively inexpensively I can monitor things like VOCs, volatile organic compounds. I can monitor CO2 with a single device that's sub-300 bucks, right?

I love the fact that we're actually paying attention now how to create a healthier environment.

Drew Deatherage, executive vice president of business development, Crux Solutions

Smart Building support efficient, occupant-centered spaces


A plan for the future

The other thing COVID did? It made us reconsider what work looks like.

“Hybrid workspaces are never going away,” says Deatherage. “The expectation from your coworkers and your employer is you're going to need to create an experience that's going to be productive and not frustrating for either side of the connection…. What's become critical is that every one of those scenarios have the same experience.”

From high-quality video to instant file sharing, the experience must be seamless. That’s why Deatherage wants to create spaces that can continue to get better at hybrid work. For that to happen, the definition of smart buildings has to be broadened from just the technological infrastructure to include the method of construction. If additional cabling needs to be added or technology upgraded, ripping apart drywall to do it doesn’t make any sense. Constructing a building that has the ability to adapt right from the start helps support continued improvement of a space. Especially given the pandemic forced companies to reconsider how much space they actually need.

“They have to rethink their strategy, right?” says Deatherage. “It has to be far more flexible and adaptive than what I would have thought about five years ago. And that's why I think DIRTT is a strategic play into that marketplace, because now I can build out a space that could well change two years from now due to events that I can't even know what are at this moment.”

“The ability to constantly reconfigure space without wasting material and wasting time and wasting money is hugely valuable.”

With a construction system that leverages layered modularity, spaces can be easily updated, adapted or reconfigured. And it can be done in a way that causes less waste, cost, and downtime.

“I think we've all learned our lesson in the last four years,” says Deatherage. “That whole idea that you have to rethink your space and realize you don't know what's going to happen three years from now. That should inform the decisions you make today.”

Hybrid spaces aren't going away.


The ability to constantly reconfigure space is more important than ever

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