Smart buildings in the Internet of Things

A heating system that uses solar energy from the roof when the sun shines, that writes an email to service in the event of wear and automatically regulates the room temperature depending on how many people are in the room... the buildings of tomorrow will manage themselves.

Digital controls facilitate the efficient use of resources and offer unheard-of convenience. This publication shows what is possible today, highlights the trends, and presents detailed examples of smart-building innovations from Berlin.

Smart buildings can finely control their own energy consumption because the relevant data is collected by meters and sensors and converted promptly. They can even include wind and solar energy, which is only available on site at irregular intervals.  The digital collection and processing of operating data in real time also enables other functions such as efficient maintenance and additional information services. For example, building systems can report when elevators malfunction and similar cases via app. 

Fewer than one in every five buildings in Germany are operating at the cutting edge of technology today. However, it is possible to digitalize their water, heating, and electricity circuits – even in existing buildings – if the right concept has been developed. Processes such as service and maintenance should be part of retrofits from the very beginning. And new buildings should include the options afforded by digitalization in the planning phase.

Various examples in our publication show what smart building technology is making possible today. Alongside more efficient building management, innovations enable the construction process itself to be digitally controlled or the maintenance of operating systems to be centrally managed as a way of saving maintenance costs. 

While the theme of data security that can be guaranteed using closed networks is being discussed in the public forum, the challenges faced by further development primarily arise from the lack of technical standards. Currently, data transmission and processing vary from device to device and are done in the cloud or on platforms maintained by the relevant manufacturer. For logical reasons, isolated solutions like these are an obstacle to having all the energy circuits in a building being closely interconnected. We do not have the interfaces or open standards yet, but urgently need them.

Berlin is Germany’s capital of smart building

A total of 114 companies and therefore, 42 per cent of all companies active in this sector, are located here. They will produce further innovations, since both sensor and probe miniaturisation and the possibilities of data processing will experience unrestrained development in the coming years.

The present study was supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises and Investitionsbank Berlin with funds from the state of Berlin.


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Anne-Caroline Erbstößer
Anne-Caroline Erbstößer
Innovation Policies & ResearchResearch Associate
Send an email+49 30 209 69 99 31