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What is a Smart Building?

A.H. Buckman (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
M. Mayfield (Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Stephen B.M. Beck (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sheffield University, Sheffield, UK)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Article publication date: 9 September 2014




Within the building sector a lack of clarity in terminology does not help designers, clients or researchers. Non-domestic buildings have shown rapid increases in the use of advanced technology and control systems with varying drivers, many of which are labelled as intelligent. The term smart has been used interchangeably with intelligent without any clear distinction between the two. If the term Smart Buildings represented a separate, more advanced grouping, it would provide an opportunity to focus the future progress of non-domestic building development. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Drawing upon academic and industrial literature and experience, this paper reviews the scope of Intelligent Buildings and the current available definitions of Smart Buildings to form a clear definition of both smart and Intelligent Buildings.


These definitions define the border between the intelligent and the (more advanced) Smart Building. The upper bound of the Smart Building is defined by (the future development of) the predictive building.


This work provides a clear focus which will allow the progression of the non-domestic building sector by providing guidance and aspiration, as well as providing a platform upon which a large amount of technical work can be based.



© Alex Buckman, Martin Mayfield and Stephen Beck. Published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This paper is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 3.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this paper (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

 This paper has been developed with support from many experts in the area. The author would like to thank all those who have helped towards the paper and have contributed their views on the subject. Many thanks to those working for Arup around the world, who have contributed and shown their support and interest.

 This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and conducted as part of the E Futures DTC at Sheffield University.


Buckman, A.H., Mayfield, M. and B.M. Beck, S. (2014), "What is a Smart Building?", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 92-109.



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