Smart buildings are the future of construction. Instead of being an individual set of four walls and a ceiling, people are starting to consider how they are connected to other structures around them on the power grid. Not only are these sites smarter, but they’re more efficient. They use energy in the most effective way possible, and in some cases, even create energy itself.

An important question to ask is, is it more effective to modernize existing properties or to start fresh? Well, the answer is both. Depending on the situation and the scale of the project, your site can save up to 18% on utility bills.

For older buildings that need an upgrade, it obviously isn’t necessary to tear down and rebuild to become more efficient. When facing an older building, the best thing to do is test new technologies on a small scale before going all out. Doing so, will also prove more manageable and more cost effective. This strategy would include things like connecting the lights and air conditioning to the security system to ensure power is not wasted when no one is utilizing the space. Not only will this save you money but time as well. Being able to check all connections from one platform will give you peace of mind.

Although more expensive to construct, building  smart structures  from scratch will create real savings over time. Analysis algorithms will detect problems in performance before they cause expensive outages, maintaining optimum efficiency along the way. Also, a utility on the smart grid may be programmed to read the weather forecast, and anticipate a temperature increase that will result in increased demand the following afternoon. The utility could communicate an “offer” to pay the smart building $0.50 for every kilowatt-hour drop from its average electricity usage. A smart building could accept this offer by activating an internal demand-reduction mode and thereby reducing its load.

Eventually every building will be able to communicate with us, each other, and the utility company, but until then, we’ll just have to do the best that we can.