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The Internet of Things and Building Sustainability

For some, the term "smart home" equates to automation of everyday appliances; examples being a coffee machine which brews your favourite cup at a pre-set time in the morning, or interior lighting which automatically turns on or off when someone enters or leaves a room. The fact is that nowadays almost every conceivable home product can be remotely controlled: this includes window shutters, door locks, heating systems, electrical appliances, energy generation devices, and multi-room entertainment systems.

In the past these concepts were seen as overly-engineered and a fad. But why have they become more relevant in new home building and interior design? The answer is the associated benefits of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and building upon sustainability targets. Smart systems, originally only used in a commercial setting, allow you to tailor how systems work as efficiently as possible for building occupants, thus reducing overall energy costs. This benefit resulted in a slow but inevitable migration of similar systems into domestic properties.

As reported by Statista on the market data of Smart Home Technology: "Household penetration [in the United Kingdom] is at 19.7% in 2018 and is expected to hit 39.0% by 2022."

How Smart Home Technology Works

At the heart of a connected home is a superfast broadband connection. In order to be able to access devices throughout the house, you need a reliable home network that has a suitable range covering the whole property.

In order for such a system to function smoothly, the individual wheels of the smart transmission must mesh together smoothly. Data is collected by sensors and forwarded to the master control computer. There, the information is evaluated, converted into control commands and passed on devices. A motion detector, for example, senses the presence of a resident - depending on the time of day and the light conditions - it will then trigger a light switch to illuminate at a optimal intensity for the conditions. This not only improves the comfort of occupants, but is an ideal measure for maintaining sustainable use of energy in your home.

It is worth checking out a recent article from The Home Owners Alliance which outlines some of the "best new products on the market".


Connected home devices can also work together. Nest’s system includes a thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke/carbon monoxide detector, and if the latter detects a carbon monoxide leak, it will communicate with the thermostat to turn the heating off. America is slightly ahead of the UK in terms of connected-home technology, Amazon Echo, an internet-connected hub that works with Alexa, a cloud-based voice system that can respond to voice commands.

Echo and Alexa work with smart home gadgets made by other companies. Using their voice, Ford owners can lock/unlock their car doors, Philips Hue users can dim their home lights or Nest owners can adjust the thermostat temperature. However not every system works together: if you invest in a Nest thermostat, it won’t work with Hive’s door sensors.

Further Capabilities

Damage caused by water, such as broken pipes, faulty return valves or a wrongly connected washing machine, is relatively common. Panasonic offers a security package for these cases along with the 24/7 emergency service of Allianz Global Assistance (AGA). If, for example, a smart home sensor registers water damage, it sends this information via app to the resident's Smartphone. At the same time the siren is triggered in the interior and also the Allianz Assist team of the AGA is informed. Their emergency service notifies the previously designated contact persons and initiates necessary steps to prevent major damage. The AGA's initial security measures also include commissioning a craftsman to B. prevent further water leakage and curb line damage.


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