Perception Vs. Reality: The Truth About Smart Buildings

30 May 16:00 by


How smart is your office? Your apartment building? Your local airport?

If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. A recent survey conducted by Honeywell found that even building managers and owners don’t have a clear picture of how smart their facilities are.

Skyscrapers against blue sky in downtown Melbourne, Australia

In a study of 487 buildings and their managers across seven key cities in the United States, building managers gave their facilities higher “smartness” assessments than they deserved. The results were based on the Honeywell Smart Building Score, a global index that evaluates facilities based on the technology used to make them green, safe and productive — three main indicators of smart buildings.

The good news about this gap between reality and perception is that more might be done with buildings than their owners and facility managers realize. Gains can be made in safety as well as in productivity. All that may be necessary is improved education about smart buildings.

The Reality Gap

Owners’ and managers’ assessments of their buildings span a broad range. In one corner are building managers who realistically assess the smartness of the buildings. At the opposite extreme are those who substantially overestimate actual scores.


The realists, many of whom manage government offices and hospitals, know they have made progress. But they also recognize that their buildings still have a ways to go to meet their potential. The over-estimators, who tend to manage high-rise residences and hotels, believe their buildings to be substantially smarter than their actual scores indicate. A big reason may be that they put too much emphasis on the “nice, modern and updated” aspects of their buildings.

The managers of airports and schools tend to be “advanced but detached.” Their perceptions and Honeywell Smart Building Scores are both high, but they believe their buildings are smarter than they actually are. Their assessments are inaccurate because they overestimate the importance of being up to code and having recently made upgrades.

Straddling the line between the over-estimators and those who score well but believe their buildings are still smarter are the managers of education buildings, as well as some who manage hotels.

The managers of private offices and mall or retail buildings tend to be pessimistic. They perceive their buildings as less smart than actual scores indicate. They underestimate their building smarts, at least partially, due to a lack of upgrades.

A Smart Mission

Buildings are certainly an expense — smart buildings more than conventional ones. But by leveraging technology, buildings can be transformed into assets that not only contribute to the bottom line but also help to fulfill a mission to improve society and individual quality of life. Achieving this potential will require an objective assessment of how smart buildings really are — an assessment grounded in reality, not perception.

Want to learn more about smart buildings? Check out Put Your Buildings To Work: A Smart Approach To Better Business Outcomes.

The HoneywellVoice Team shares insights and expertise about innovative smart building technologies that are making the world cleaner, more sustainable, secure, energy efficient and productive.