In New York City, Smart Buildings Are All the Rage

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Two smart building proponents sat down for a fireside chat at ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on Feb. 13. Topic of discussion: “The Intersection of CRE and Connectivity.”

Rich Berliner, the publisher of Connected Real Estate Magazine, introduced the event’s prime speaker.

John Gilbert is the chief operating officer and chief technology officer at Rudin Management, one of the largest privately-owned real-estate companies in New York City. The Rudin family owns more than 15 million square feet of property, two thirds of which is commercial.

Gilbert was involved in every major project the Rudin family developed over the past 24 years, including the redevelopment and creation of the world’s first smart building at 55 Broad Street. His expertise in smart buildings runs deep.

Together, Berliner and Gilbert tried to put a frame on the current state of smart-building technology. Right now, smart buildings are valued for their efficiency, customer experience and cost of operation.

“All the data we collect has become highly valuable in our business,” Gilbert says. “We really are focused on the experience, less so on the brick and glass.”

The automation of the building has been a long time coming, he says “An IPad has an operating system,” he says. “Why don’t buildings have operating systems?”

Gilbert says the smart building became a reality once the city’s communications network could handle the job. “The fiber network at the core is really important,” he says. “There’s enough fiber capacity in the metro area now where smart buildings can come to fruition.”

To take advantage of the infrastructure, Rudin developed a single, integrated platform that allows them to monitor and adjust the conditions in each building in real time. Among the most important usage applications the system monitors continuous are those for:

  • Water consumption;
  • Electricity consumption;
  • Current occupancy.

Berliner commented that digital real estate in New York City is incredibly valuable. Companies that source communications from building tops can earn “65%-70% EBITA margins,” he says. “We’re just having new investment classes become aware of these opportunities.”

Gilbert agreed, noting that the rooftop space at 55 Broad Street is among the most valuable in the world. “It’s all about closed capacity and the huge expansion of devices,” he says. As a side note, Gilbert expects the amount of sensors in use in smart buildings to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Gilbert sounds like the little guy behind the curtain when he speaks to the lure of the smart building. “Buildings have always had a heart,” he says. “Now they have a brain.”




Edited by Maurice Nagle

Communications Correspondent

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