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Opinion Article


2010 study found

that people who

work in 25°C are

more than twice as produc-

tive as those who work in

21 °C.


Where productivity

is imperative, the call “Turn

off the air-conditioner!” is

certainly an unnecessary

distraction. But employee welfare isn’t the only

important factor governing the everyday life of

a typical office building: energy consumption

– whether mechanical or human – in unused

spaces and systems, is a key consideration

for organizations incessantly seeking ways

to achieve organizational efficiency and cost


Nowadays, managers, engineers and architects

alike face the need to make organizations more

efficient. Naturally, there exist different ap-

proaches to this issue. One interesting take

involves seeing efficiency as part of a larger

set of issues – sustainability and employee

comfort. Marrying these considerations and

undertaking a holistic approach, Mochly-Eldar

Architects is designing a first-of-its-kind office

building in Israel for a leading semiconductor

company. This building uses IoT – the Inter-

net of Things – to improve employee welfare;

streamline the organization’s work; and design

the greenest building in Israel. We deemed it

worthy to write this article and probe the de-

sign considerations for the office buildings of

the future.

What a “Smart Building” Is

During the past few decades a huge leap has

taken place both in green architecture and in

developing solutions for inhabitant comfort:

the “Smart Building.” It is able not only to au-

tomatically dim the lights, but also neutralize

unnecessary distractions, accommodate em-

ployee preferences, and improve efficiency.

The IoT system, which provides employees

with access to the building through an inter-

face synced with employee timetables and work

environment preferences, provides the build-

ing with the information required for optimal

system management.

The human-building interaction turns into a ma-

jor energy efficiency opportunity on the one

hand, and HR economy on the other; where

energy economy, organization efficiency and

personal work environment customization over-

lap, one can kill three birds with one stone.

Based on user-gathered information, the sys-

tem regulates the climate in entire sections of

the building, and even seats together employ-

ees with similar preferences. Where almost

30% of energy usage is for cooling/heating

unused spaces, rethinking ways to read the

pulse is key.

Suppose that on a certain day approximately

40% of employees are out of the office, while

others man their stations. In a typical building,

the lighting and air-conditioning systems con-

tinue to work normally, and cleaning personnel

empty all trash cans. By contrast, in a smart

building, the system receives feedback from

the calendars of out-of-office employees, so the

electric points in their stations automatically

shut off. Maintenance managers, furthermore,

can brief the cleaning personnel that only 60%

of stations need attending to.

Dynamic systems

From a climate perspective, such system can

join forces with existing green technologies,

such as shading and natural ventilation. To au-

tomatically adjust the shading angle for each

workstation, shading algorithms combine cli-

matic data with the employee’s lighting pref-

erences – to get the perfect louvre angle. In

addition, opening the building envelope to

fresh air reduces recycled air side-effects (e.g.

headaches and dizziness), as well as moisture


If most employees don’t have allocated worksta-

tions, the system can automatically rearrange

workstations daily according to tasks and meet-

ings schedules, grouping those with similar pref-

erences and switching off mechanical systems

in unused sections. Thanks to this method, the

EDGE building recently constructed in Amsterdam

has earned the title “world’s smartest building”

and “world’s greenest building” – at the same

time. Two birds, one stone.


The opportunities of a unified strategy are

endless, but what are the potential challenges

it poses? First, privacy: employers know their

employees’ locations at any point in time; thus,

IoT would undoubtedly require formulating in-

ternal regulations – perhaps even legislation

– to maintain boss-worker balance. Further-

more, organizations must secure the system

with extreme care lest sensitive information

leaks out. Although certain features might pose

ethical and logistical problems for the “Smart

Building” and IoT, one must remember that the

various building elements are not necessarily

interdependent; each parameter has its own

level of autonomy. For example, to overcome

the privacy issue, the feature of dynamic station

arrangement via employees’ smartphones can

be eliminated. Since this technology is evolv-

ing and developing, it is natural that there are

several challenges to be overcome – but the

potential for sustainability, human or mechani-

cal, certainly justifies the effort.

1. Seth Porges, “Your Air-Conditioned Office Could Be Hurting

Your Productivity—Here’s How to Fight Back.”,

23 August, 2016.

2. Eric Brown, “Who Needs the Internet of Things,”


Published Sep 13, 2016.

3.TomRandall,“TheSmartestBuilding intheWorld.”Bloomberg.

com. Published Sep 23, 2015.

The Office of the Future: the “Smart Building”

By Dagan Mochly, CEO Mochly Eldar Architects

Dagan Mochly

Dagan Mochly, President and CEO, Mochly-Eldar Architects