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edition 10 (234)
October 2018
Innovations by Skanska

A Spark of intelligence

Managing intelligent buildings

Tomasz Cudowski

A Spark of intelligence
Adam Targowski, the sustainability manager at Skanska Commercial Development Europe

It is no longer enough for a 21st century office building to just have the latest hi-tech systems without them being integrated. Such systems need to be brought together to make life simpler rather than more complex

Nowadays the most sophisticated platforms, such as Connected by Skanska, not only fulfil users’ wishes but also predict what they will be. Connected by Skanska is an operating system for buildings that is already operational in eight of the company’s developments across Europe. It is an open platform from which all the intelligent systems of a building can be controlled. The platform is similar to the operating system of a computer or a mobile phone and it is updated on a regular basis making each new feature or refinement available to all with every building running the latest version of the system.

Friendly and in total control

“Connected by Skanska is revolutionary in many respects,” claims Renata Nowakowska, the innovation manager at Skanska Commercial Development. “Users especially like the flexible management of parking spaces in the building, which – as you know – there are never enough of. Those who use the car park are put into three categories: employees, guests and VIPs. Only those in the final last group (who are usually board members) have specific spaces places reserved for them, other spaces can be freely assigned to guests or employees according to need. If it is the holiday season, some employee spaces might be allocated to guests or even sublet. Each authorised vehicle will have its licence plate read at the entrance, before being led through the car park to its designated space,” she explains.

The system will also provide full data on how the car park is used which allows a company to formulate a policy to manage it. Another feature of the Connected by Skanska system is its virtual reception. An electronic pass can be sent to the smartphone of a visitor invited to the office. The permit will allow access to a strictly defined section of the building (such as an office or a floor) at a specified time. An office worker does not have to wait for his guest in the lobby nor does his guest have to wait for him at the entrance to the building. “Connected by Skanska is in fact two platforms. The system can be controlled by the everyday workers of an office building through a smartphone app, while those administering a building can additionally access the system through a web browser,” says Renata Nowakowska and she adds: “There are different levels of access depending on a person’s position – a building manager will have access to different data than the employees of an HR or IT department for example.”

The system complies with the legal requirements of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and hides data that a user does not need. For example, the maintenance manager of a building cannot see the employee lists of the tenants but only the workers’ ID numbers. “We are already trying to predict how technology will evolve and are preparing for such changes. Connected by Skanska allows people to move around a building using virtual access cards stored on their smartphones, but we believe that plastic cards are going to continue to be used for the next 5-10 years,” says Renata Nowakowska.

The system need not be limited to the buildings themselves – the access cards used by employees in the High5ive office building in Kraków can also be used as travel cards on public transportation. The system is even designed to work with driverless vehicles, which could be appearing on our streets within a few years. After reading the licence plate, the system will take over the vehicles navigation systems and direct it to its designated space within the car park . “When I tell our clients about the possibilities of such a system, they usually only ask one question: ‘When can we have it?’ Well actually... they do also ask about the costs,” laughs Renata Nowakowska but then she explains: “Of course there are a number of variables which determine the price of installing such a system but I can tell that in our Spark building we have invested around EUR 1.5 mln in developing and setting up its high tech systems, which includes around EUR 300,000 that we spent on Connected by Skanska.”

Each office building is a part of the urban fabric, which means it is just a fragment of a larger whole. It is also a basic element of what people call a Smart City, which is a subject everyone is happy to talk about but no one wants to raise. “Connected by Skanska allows buildings to communicate with each other,” says Renata Nowakowska. “Even if it’s only to sublet free spaces in the car parks we talked about earlier to workers from other buildings where the car parks are full. It is enough for buildings to exchange information about vacant spaces. Another example might be a co-working company with branches in different districts across a city will share information about where there are vacant work spaces and employees would then be able to choose the place that is closest to where they live.”

The offices in Skanska's Spark are designed firs of all with people in mind

All for the people

The Connected by Skanska system is not just another hi tech gizmo but an extensive user-friendly platform that is designed to provide a building’s users with working conditions that are both comfortable and healthy. To this end the Spark building has been certified under Well. “Creating buildings that meet the criteria for Well certification is a natural consequence of how we operate – for years we have been paying attention to the well-being of the people who work in our buildings,” claims Adam Targowski, the sustainability manager at Skanska Commercial Development Europe. Indeed Skanska conducted an environmental study of two buildings it developed a number of years ago: Atrium 1 and Atrium 2. The study looked at the air, light and water and the two buildings met the vast majority of strict norms laid down by the Well Institute many years later. “We are aware of how long a building’s life cycle is, which is why, we make sure at the design stage that the criteria laid out by Well will also be met in many years’ time,” says Adam Targowski. “For example, a ventilation system has to be designed to allow access so that it can be cleaned without using corrosive chemicals.” Not only can entire buildings be certified under Well but also individual offices or floors can be (under its Commercial Interiors category), and Skanska is currently testing this out. It is planning to apply for this certification for its Warsaw office in the Spark office building soon. “Here we have a drinking water supply system that employees may use in any part of the office, without walking with their cup from one end of the office to the other. It’s also worth pointing out the signage is foreigner friendly and written in two languages while its pictograms are clearly visible and easily understood by everyone. Connected by Skanska also helps guests navigate around the office, preventing them from going astray. Together with their electronic invitation they are given full information about the floor and the room where there meeting is scheduled,” explains Adam Targowski from Skanska.

Facilities for cyclists as well as both indoor and outdoor gyms are a fixed element of all Skanska’s buildings. People working in Spark have a separate cycle storage area with its own lift, which is large enough to accommodate their bikes, and the area has charging points for anyone who might have a bicycle that is electrically powered. “Still, we have not forgotten about the physically disabled – all our buildings are completely accessible, which is demonstrated by the ‘Building without Barriers’ certificate, which after a thorough inspection of a building is issued by the Integration Foundation,” says Adam Targowski. ν

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