angle-left The five smartest buildings in the world

The five smartest buildings in the world

Sensors that monitor air quality or temperature. Self-sufficient energy offices. These are some of the technologies that transform these five buildings into the smartest ones, allowing automated and efficient management.

Siemens Middle East Headquarters (Masdar City) saves 63% of energy consumption compared to a standard office building in Abu Dhabi. Credit: Paul McMullen Siemens.



To earn the title of being "smart", the buildings chosen to appear on this list all have one thing in common: a central nervous system made up of a network of numerous sensors distributed throughout the structure, which serve to monitor a wide range of variables, from carbon dioxide levels, light, temperature, motion and even which parking spots are free or occupied.

This trend in the real estate sector, with an estimated annual growth of 78.8% between 2015 and 2020, is what has provided "intelligence" to buildings, allowing the automated management of everything from energy consumption to safety, and achieving greater efficiency. Here we review the smartest buildings in the world, so far.

The Edge (Amsterdam)

Deloitte's building in Amsterdam, called The Edge, knows where each worker lives. It also knows what car they drive and who they will meet with each day. The workers have a smartphone app that keeps them connected from the moment they wake up, and has all the information about their schedule. The building, which has around 28,000 sensors, also recognises their cars when they arrive and directs them to a specific parking space.

Inside, workers have no assigned desks. Workspaces, meeting rooms and concentration rooms are distributed according to employees' schedules. In addition, the app knows the employees’ preferences in terms of light and temperature and adjusts them to their taste.

It has therefore been named by the technology portal Bloomberg as the smartest building in the world. It is also self-managed with electricity from its own solar panels and is one of the world’s greenest buildings according to the international sustainable building certificate BREEAM.


The Edge, the smartest building in the world according to Bloomberg, is also 100% sustainable and adapts its conditions to the needs of users. Credit: PLP Architecture.

The Crystal (London)

The Crystal is home to the world's largest permanent exhibition on the future of cities. Considered one of the most sustainable smart buildings on the planet, it emits 70% less carbon dioxide than other offices of its kind. What’s more, it operates with electricity generated by its own photovoltaic solar panels and has lights that turn on and off depending on the amount of sunlight that enters.

The building, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, also takes advantage of the rain. The roof has a system that collects rainwater and treats it for later use. In this way, 100% of the water used for toilets and irrigation systems is recycled. All these advances have allowed The Crystal to receive different sustainable construction certificates such as LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding.

Siemens Middle East Headquarters (Masdar City)

Masdar City (United Arab Emirates) aims to be the world's first sustainable and self-sufficient city. This site in the Abu Dhabi desert is home to one of the smartest buildings on the planet: the headquarters of Siemens. The building achieves 63% savings in energy consumption and 52% savings in water consumption compared to a standard office building.

Its design is somewhat special. It was conceived as a box within a box. The internal part has an airtight façade designed to reduce thermal conductivity. On the outside, it has an aluminium cladding that minimises the effects of the sun and a system of slats that rise and fall to adapt to the position of the sun.


The Bullitt Center office building in Seattle is energetically self-sufficient (99%), which has earned it the Living Building certification. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Glumac (Shanghai)

The office of the engineering company Glumac in Shanghai has an air monitoring system in the building based on levels of oxygen, volatile organic compounds, moisture and particles. In this way, employees can check the air quality on their smartphones at any time.

While there are often high levels of pollution outside the building, these offices have five air purification systems and a wall full of plants to absorb pollutants. It was the first building to apply for the Living Building Challenge certification in Asia and is now considered one of the most sustainable office spaces on the continent.

Bullit Center (Seattle, Washington)

The Bullitt Center was built on behalf of the Bullitt Foundation, dedicated to promoting sustainability in the United States. Today, this six-story, 50,000-square-metre office building is one of the most sustainable in the world. It was designed to have a lifespan of at least 250 years and was built using more than 350 materials that are not harmful to the health or the environment.

It is self-sufficient in terms of energy, which is why it has received the Living Building certification. It obtains the energy it needs from the 575 solar panels installed on its roof, and its design is such that employees can benefit from sunlight during 92% of working hours. It also has large windows that open and close automatically depending on the weather. While the bathrooms operate with a composting system, the building stores and supplies rainwater thanks to a 210,000-litre tank located in the basement.

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Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.


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