5 Smart Buildings Both Einstein and Gandhi Would Love

The buildings with the highest IQ tend to be the most environmentally friendly.

April 13, 2017

6 Slides

By Adam Gabriel

Check out our updated and expanded roundup highlighting 10 of the world’s smart buildings.

Wouldn’t it be nice if at the end of an exhausting workday, instead of stopping by the grocery store, your smart office building could round up the ingredients you need for dinner, based on how many you’re feeding, and hand it to you as you were leaving? How about it waiting until you get home, and as you’re whipping together your healthy stir-fry for two, you gaze through the window, and your office tower, looming high in the night sky, puts on a dazzling light show for you and your loved one?

Before you start making plans to quit your current job to work in such a utopian setting, we have a disclosure: You need to choose between the stir-fry or the light show. While these two incredible features, they are features of two smart buildings on two different continents, as you’ll find out below.

Collectively, these buildings represent the most intelligent buildings on the planet—fusing Einstein-style smarts with Gandhi’s devotion to the environment. Within these structures, you’ll see the following: Elevator banks that schedule each elevator for maximum occupancy, to save the energy wasted when a car travels empty. Lights that adjust to your preference, regardless of which desk you chose. Banks of solar panels to harness energy from the sun and lessen—and sometimes eliminate—the structure’s carbon footprint. And as you’ll notice once you’ve watched the videos, all the high-tech features are designed not only to make working there a dream, but also to maximize the building’s sustainability, make it as green as possible.

So, which one would you like to go to work in? Why don’t you tell us in the comments, or via @IoTINews on Twitter?

1. Duke Energy Center, Charlotte, NC

Having the distinction of being the largest building in Charlotte in terms of square footage, this 54-floor skyscraper is also the city’s second tallest building. The anchor tenant is Duke Energy, though Wells Fargo owns the building. What you might not expect of such a tall building is that it boasts the highest green certification: LEED Platinum. But all the superlatives like largest and tallest aside, this tower differentiates itself from all the others on our list by the ability to put on a mesmerizing, fully customizable light show!

2. Cisco Canada HQ, Toronto

Just like the Duke Energy Center, this shiny glass and metal edifice has a touchscreen in the lobby that registers your requested floor, then directs you to the elevator that will both minimize your wait time, and maximize energy efficiency. It takes customization of your work environment beyond adjusting lighting and temperature, something all the buildings we show you here do, to adjusting the height of your work desk. Another radical feature is the conference rooms that can be melded together by lifting the walls that separate them electromechanically into the ceiling. It needs every ounce of Internet of Things connectivity to realize the seamless experience it provides, which is Cisco’s forté: connectivity. And who wouldn’t love the abundant pool and ping pong tables? Talk about having fun at work! 

3. The Crystal, London

While this building is the shortest on our list, don’t let its diminutive stature fool you. It dedicates the majority of its available space to housing an exhibition about how to be environmentally responsible, what the green, sustainable cities of the future should look like. The remainder of the space is used for events. As such, it is different from the other office buildings we talk about, in that to work there, you’re either involved with curating the green museum, or managing the small section used to host events. You can’t “come work for Cisco.” But if you’re lucky enough to get a job here, you’ll be working in what the London’s former Deputy Mayor for the Environment, Martin Powell, calls “the world’s most sustainable building.”

4. Watson IoT HQ, Munich

These twin towers are unique in that they have some of the latest IoT technology, and are mostly dedicated to further developing the same. Once IBM decided to call them home for Watson IoT, it spent $200 million to convert them into the world’s largest collaborative laboratory for connected devices—a “collaboratory.” Talk to the JBL speaker in the conference room, and you can close the blinds, then turn on the large screen TV to start your presentation. Observe the illuminated tennis ball in the middle of the conference table; if it turns red, there are too many people in there, causing the air quality to be sub-optimal. And since all the companies there, like BMW and Bosch, are working with IBM on creating the latest gizmos, there is one word geeks use to describe working here: heaven. 

5. The Edge, Amsterdam

Did we save the best for last? Possibly. Unassuming in its height compared to the other skyscrapers we’ve discussed, this angular, transparent structure has received more press coverage than all its brethren on our list. Partly due to that extensive coverage, partly due to it taking sustainability and eco-friendliness to their zenith by incorporating homes for bats and beehive towers into its exterior, this has led some to declare it the greenest building in the world. Philips designed an intelligent, connected light system especially for it, then offered this solution worldwide once they successfully piloted it here. Our favorite (cutting) Edge features? The security robot that starts making its rounds as everyone is leaving, and the building measuring out ingredients once you chose dinner.

Now that you’ve seen our famous five, consider the possibility that the $5-billion Apple Campus II is slated to open its doors this month. Stay tuned to learn what type of smart-building functionality is incorporated into the so-called “spaceship campus.”

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