Building Tech 50 at Five: How Smart Building Priorities Have Changed for Smart Buildings


This year will be the fifth year we publish our Building Tech 50, and so much has changed since 2017 when we first published the List. Our original Building Tech List was heavy on solutions leading to the reduction of energy consumption and helping with security and access control.   However, "Smart Buildings" field has seen significant advances in the past five years. The impact of Covid-19 and an increased focus on ESG objectives has shifted industry priorities, while investment and innovation has enabled a broader array of more robust solutions in a variety of capacities. As we look toward the publication of this year's list, we see solutions aimed at reducing energy but also performing better in supporting health and wellness, carbon footprint reduction, "user experience," and more.

The First Four Years of Building Tech 50

From Net Zero to Zero Carbon

While at least twenty of the solutions on our original list touted their benefits in reducing, producing or managing energy, none of the companies on the list specifically highlighted carbon footprint reduction. While promoting reduced energy consumption, alternative energy production, and conservation of resources certainly are all key elements of carbon footprint reduction, we see the List increasingly focused on sustainability, the circular economy, and carbon footprint reduction in areas that go beyond energy reduction and alternative sources. As we saw in our Summit in Paris in 2019, Europe took an early leadership role in fostering innovation in the areas of carbon footprint reduction and the circular economy. However, at our Global Summit, we learned about important developments emerging from Canada, Latin America, East Asia and the Middle East. The United States appears largely to have been behind the curve in this area of Building Tech Innovation, but that may well change quickly in the coming years.

Know a Smart or Innovative New Product or Solutiion that Should be on This Year's Building Tech 50 List?

Don't Miss the February Deadline for This Year's List!

With the Effects of the Global Pandemic bearing down on Commercial Buildings, Well Buildings Credability Hits its Stride

Even before Covid 19 boosted contactless entry, contact tracing and other building technologies, the industry had been thinking about how to promote buildings that offer healthier environments for their users. We first covered the emerging Well Buildings Standards  in a 2016 article contributed by Eliza Clark, then director of sustainability at Anderson Corporation, and then again at our Buildings Conference in 2017. At that time, Well Building Certifications was only a three year-old offering and still gaining currency in the broader community where LEED, Globes and other standards were already much more widely accepted. Covid-19 helped spotlight the question, not just of how develop smarter buildings that don't make us sick, but also buildings that help us to be and to stay healthy. We expect to see much more on solutions that address this goal on this year's List and in years to come.

A Proliferation of Advanced Operations and Maintenance Solutions

Perhaps the most striking change in the list from 2017 to 2020 has been the proliferation of types of Building Operations and Maintenance systems.  We listed seven companies in the category of "building management in 2017.  While we found visitor and access management systems like ALICE Receptionist, soloinsight, and Senseaware as well as safety and way-finding systems like Boni, and maintenance systems like augury, there was nothing compared to the array of  comprehensive "experience management," "workplace ecosystem," "comprehensive building management" "platforms" we found in commercialization by 2020. With multibillion dollar acquisitions in the sector, we expect to see more in this category again in 2021.

Looking forward to the List and Conference

The actual Building Tech 50 List will be out in February, and we'll look forward to sharing more of what it reveals. Already, we have adjusted our Buildings Conference topics to respond to what we expect to find on the List with a day dedicated to Smart Sustainability and a Day dedicated to modular systems. One critical point of difference between the List and the Conference this year is that Day One of the Buildings Conference will be dedicated to Digital Twin, Modeling Software, and other systems that are helping building stake holders better design and plan building projects for optimum performance. In the past, we have explored this topic under Project Management. However, as each topic has exploded, we have had to make shifts to fit everything in the discussion.


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