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Smarter Buildings

Given their environmental impact, it's time
we designed from the earth up

Buildings account for 70% of current U.S. electricity use.

Green Buildings

Green buildings are smart buildings

If you're sitting in a conventional office building while you read this, take a moment to listen to your surroundings hum and breathe.

The HVAC system, the lights, the water, the elevators, the power and cooling for technology, the heating and cooling for people: all contribute to making buildings a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions—and a leading energy user. In fact, by 2025, buildings will use more energy than any other category of "consumer." (Already today, in the United States, they represent 70% of energy use.) And 40% of the world's current output of raw materials goes into buildings. That's about 3 billion tons ... annually.


Inside four walls: the IBM Smarter Buildings Survey

Only a third say their buldings are environmentally responsible; 27% of office workers say buildings adjust environment automatically based on occupancy; 14% say their buldings use renewable energy sources; 65% would help redesign workplace to make ir more environmentally responsible; Cumulative time spent stuck in an elevator or waiting for one in past 12 months: 125 years.

U.S. office buildings have failed to keep pace with the revolution in automation that pervades modern life, according to a new survey of American office workers by IBM (PDF, 294KB). The wide-ranging survey indicates that inefficiencies built into office buildings are taking a toll in lost productivity and added costs.

The survey also revealed a groundswell of desire among working people to help remake their offices into greener environments.

Los Angeles emerged as the clear winner in the IBM Smarter Buildings study, which surveyed 6,486 office workers in 16 U.S. cities on issues ranging from office building automation and security to elevator reliability and conservation issues. Respondents answered a series of questions about the office buildings in which they work.

Nationwide, only 33% of respondents rated their office buildings "somewhat high," "very high" or "extremely high" in terms of environmental responsibility. And 65% say they would participate in the redesign of the workspace in their office buildings to make them more environmentally responsible.

Elevators: the time cost. This chart compares the total amount of time—measured in years—that office workers in 16 U.S. cities spent either waiting for an elevator or stuck in one during the past twelve month. Source: The IBM Smarter Buildings Survey, April 2010.

Analysis of the survey results indicated a number of other key nationwide findings related to how intelligent buildings are in the U.S.:

  • 79% of respondents say that they conserve resources such as water or electricity as part of their regular routine at work.
  • 75% say they would be more likely to conserve resources at work if they were rewarded for the effort.
  • 31% say their office buildings have low-flow toilets.
  • More than one quarter (26 percent) say that low emission and sustainable materials are used to promote improved indoor air quality in their office buildings.
  • 14% report that their office buildings make use of solar energy or another renewable energy source.
  • 13% have been stuck in an elevator in their office buildings in the past 12 months, and of that group, 33% have been stuck for 5-10 minutes, and another 22 % have been stuck for more than 10 minutes.

Smarter buildings index: IBM has compiled the results of the survey into a Smarter Buildings Index that ranks efficiency in each city on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the best.