Smart building scores are about creating a global standard: Honeywell CEO

On a scale of 1 to 100, the average safety score of buildings is 21, while the national average of smartness of buildings is 33, says a survey


US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, Alex Ismail (Centre), CEO Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions and Gaurav Taneja from Earnest and Young during a conference in New Delhi. Photo: AP
US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, Alex Ismail (Centre), CEO Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions and Gaurav Taneja from Earnest and Young during a conference in New Delhi. Photo: AP

New Delhi: Poor durability and sustainability of Indian buildings point to potential risks and calls for greater investments in safety and security, a survey by Honeywell and IMRB International said.

On a scale of 1 to 100, the average safety score of buildings is 21, while the national average of smartness of buildings is 33.

Alex Ismail, president and chief executive of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, and Anant Maheshwari, president, Honeywell India, talked about setting up a global standard for smart buildings and need for government to incentivize such buildings. Edited excerpts:

How did this (safety) score come about?

Anant: If I go back a year, the smart city initiative got launched and simultaneously in the company, Alex launched a movement around connected buildings. We were sitting in India between these two mega trends and we said we are clear leaders in providing connected technologies in the buildings, both globally and in India. If I look around, I only see the buildings, whether I see the homes or offices or malls or airports, metro stations etc. So, how can these buildings become start, if these buildings are not smart and that’s when we asked what is a smart building and the answer did not exist.

It is well-timed around the smart cities project that the prime minister has launched.

Alex: I think its timed to the connectivity, which I think is one of the big mega trends changing the way end-users, home owners are interacting on whether your cell phone or any mobility devices today. That’s changing the customer experience and that’s changing very fast. You could even argue that the way consumers are interfacing with their mobile devices creates an experience that the professional world whether its buildings, airports, hospitals etc have not necessarily yet figured out to replicate and I think it opens up huge opportunity to bring technology to drive user friendliness. That’s a huge opportunity to grow for the industry and for companies around the world.

Did the findings surprise you?

Anant: It is low if you look at the standard of 100. If you look at verticals with scores of 20 plus and that’s the lowest score that you get. The highest that came out in the survey is 89 and it is an airport. Are there buildings in each vertical, which have higher scores? Yes, there is wide dispersion in the scores within each vertical also. That’s where you start working on within each vertical. Not everybody can create an airport. But everybody can try to be the best in their vertical and help smartness reach there. Second there are some very simple practices that can go across verticals and that’s what this Honeywell smart building score enables because you can take best practices from one vertical and then apply them into the other with very little investments.

This does open up new business opportunities for you.

It does but that’s not really the intent as we realized that we are the leaders in this space and even we don’t have a benchmark score with which we can evaluate across buildings. So, it is our responsibility that we should go and invest in this kind of industry body knowledge and we are sharing it publicly.

It is really about raising the awareness. It is about setting a standard across the world so that we can look at how buildings are operated, compare them and eventually drive continuous improvement.

When you look at the new government’s policies in clean energy, smart mobility and smart cities, what are the opportunities that these could create?

All our technologies are well aligned to global favourable macro trends. What the government in India is facing is what every government around the world is facing. Everyone wants energy efficiency, everyone is getting more worried about global warming issues, safety, security. So, I think its pretty consistent. I think launching this initiative is actually forward looking and Honeywell has the technologies to enable that but not all the technologies to make it happen. So, it should not only raise the awareness but as well enable policy makers to just drive for the right technology content.

What are the suggestions that you have for the government for the existing cities?

Learn from what has already been done. Look at what has happened on the green side. There are incentives being given by state and central governments for energy efficiency. For green, there is a lot of work that has happened and that’s why the green scores are twice that of safe scores. Why can’t that be done for safe buildings?

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