By Patrick Lozada, Global Policy Director, TIA

As we anticipate and hope for a return to some level of normalcy in 2021, Congress is considering where to invest federal funding for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). As such, TIA and UL are teaming to urge leaders to include funding for the Department of Energy’s Smart Building Acceleration Act, authorized in the 2020 COVID Relief Bill. The two organizations recently sent a letter to congressional leaders to emphasize the importance of funding the legislation.

Smart buildings are more important than ever because they integrate technology and networks that address various inefficiencies that are inherent in current building construction and use practices. Additionally, smart buildings are very well aligned with the Federal Government’s own objectives by enabling connected devices that support COVID-19 risk mitigation, minimizing energy waste, better manage maintenance costs, increase worker productivity, and provide for an overall better use of limited resources. As Congress considers legislation to upgrade America’s aging infrastructure, mitigate contributions to climate change, and safely bring workers back to work in the time of COVID, we believe supporting smart buildings should be an integral part of the solution.

The Smart Building Acceleration Act is a critical bridge that will help the federal government develop a plan to transition its aging infrastructure to an inventory of smart, connected buildings. By evaluating privately-owned smart buildings, conducting research on the benefits of transitioning to smart buildings, and developing a smart building acceleration program, the federal government can work hand in glove with the private sector to identify emerging smart building best practices. Such an approach can ensure the federal government identifies smart building practices that meet the government’s needs and can subsequently implement a smart building strategy on an appropriate timeline. The Smart Building Acceleration Act is a critical step toward ensuring the future efficiency and integration of federal government buildings, but it still requires funding to be put into action.

In the private sector, smart building technology is already starting to play a more central role in accelerating a return to the places we learn, work, eat, and play. Building managers have been working feverishly to upgrade systems and leverage Smart and IoT devices to keep occupants safe and healthy. However, what many managers and owners are quickly finding, is that a longer-term strategy is needed for connected technology requirements within their buildings.

In 2020, TIA and UL launched SPIRE™, the first comprehensive and objective smart building assessment and rating program. The program gives owners and investors a holistic view of the smart building performance levels to identify and prioritize areas for improvement and achieve a smart building verified rating to demonstrate the commitment to serving their tenants’ needs. The SPIRE program’s assessment criteria framework was developed by the TIA Smart Buildings Working Group with input from over 60 leading companies from across the commercial real estate and technology ecosystem to ensure neutrality and the inclusion of evolving industry best practices. The assessment criteria consists of six primary categories: connectivity, sustainability, cybersecurity, life and property safety, health and wellbeing, and power and energy.

As smart building standards and best practices evolve and mature, the government, which owns over 9,000 buildings, must ensure their buildings are upgraded and maintained in parallel to the private sector. Funding the DOE’s Smart Building Acceleration Act will reinvigorate an industry which has suffered incomparable losses from the impact of the pandemic as well as position the government to follow through on its promises for a safer, more sustainable, and better-connected future.

To view the letter from TIA and UL, click here.

To learn more about SPIRE Smart Building Assessment and Rating Program, click here.

To learn more about the TIA Smart Buildings Program, click here.