In 2018 a report into Australian housing revealed almost 10 per cent of the country’s population resides in apartments, units or semi-detached residences, with over 2.6 million strata title lots registered in Australia.
And as more strata dwellings take up premium positions in the nation’s cities and major metropolitan areas, it’s a sector primed for revolution courtesy of smart technology.
So what benefits can smart home tech offer strata communities? Here’s an insight into the economic, efficiency, connectivity and liveability advantages of smart strata.
What is a smart strata community?
Just like in the smart home, smart strata technology allows a building to be more efficient, more economical and more convenient, but on a much larger scale.
Akin to a building having a brain, smart technology enables daily tasks to be automated and become more responsive to the residents’ needs. It allows for better security, better monitoring and better efficiency in terms of power and waste management.
From automated lighting that switches on at specific times of day or senses when occupants are in an area, to power monitoring that enables a strata committee to understand how and where a building draws its power, smart home technology has the potential to transform the way strata communities live in their environment.
It also offers huge benefits in terms of repairs and maintenance, with sensors and monitoring enabling strata committees to be alerted to potential problems and have them tended to long before they become costly repairs.
The benefits are so extensive that Schneider Electric recently released a report after surveying nearly 100 industry experts from the Australian corporate real estate sector and found that 83 per cent of them agreed that smart building technologies were important for their corporate, workplace and real estate policies.
So how does this theory translate into practice?
Smart strata scenarios
Like the smart home, a smart strata building is guided by major principles like smart heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), smart lighting, and smart security which all use sensors to respond to the movements and activities of people within that building.
This technology applies on the broad scale to improve the amenity and function of the strata community as a whole and can be further used within individual apartments to improve the lifestyle of occupants in each apartment. But first let’s look to the building as a whole.
Smart strata safety
With the majority of strata complexes situated in city environments, security remains an ever-present requirement. Used effectively, smart technology can increase safety at entrances to buildings, car parks and more, providing a more appealing environment to residents.
This technology includes keyless entry and geofencing which allows the building to unlock as a resident approaches courtesy of a smartphone app.
It also extends to smart lighting which senses when someone is in an area and activates lights and smart security monitoring which sees building managers or security personnel notified when a non-resident is attempting to gain access to a building or unusual behaviour is occurring.
It can be further used to grants access to specific residents who are authorised to enter specific areas of the buildings. For example, keyless entry or pincodes might only grant residents on the third floor entry to communal areas and the third floor, or may allow only residents to enter the pool area or gym.
This safety also extends to fire and flood sensors and monitoring and can be enhanced by smart safety lighting which guides residents out of the building should there be a fire or threat.
Smart strata living
Features like automated lighting, scenes and smart HVAC then ensure the building is more liveable, using sensors to respond to the activities of residents by activating lights, cooling or ventilation when required and depending on the external environment.
For example, come 10pm, the mood of the building might change lighting-wise, offering a quieter more ambient environment for residents and guests.
And this in turn has energy efficiency benefits.
Smart strata energy efficiency
HVAC that responds not just to external conditions but to who is using what areas of a strata building allows that community to operate more efficiently reducing power consumption and a community’s carbon footprint.
Smart technology also allows building managers and body corporates to better understand and monitor how their building is performing and take action to reduce the energy it requires.
In an article in the Fifth Estate, Schneider Electric’s Cara Ryan noted: “By installing modern building management systems and big data analytics tools, there is the opportunity to cut energy costs dramatically, monitor ageing assets and be informed prior to making decisions that could affect a building’s bottom line”.
And this can range from automatic fault detection on equipment to smart energy dashboards that allow managers to monitor a building including facility usage, performance metrics and gain an insight into trends.
As we’ve previously noted this efficiency is also seeing local governments also take up the smart strata initiative.
In New South Wales for example, the City of Sydney is leading the charge. Over the next 10 years they plan to work with 20 high-rise buildings a year to implement smart technology in a bid to reduce high-rise running costs and their associated carbon footprint.
Their focus is on reducing water consumption, improving waste management, increasing energy efficiency and reducing running costs through smart, green apartments.
“To date we’ve helped more than 50 buildings in the local area save thousands of dollars each year on running and maintenance costs,” they reflect, citing the following examples:
- Aria, a 15-storey apartment building in Waterloo is now saving $61,000 each year through lighting upgrades and adjusting timers on car park exhaust fans.
- Cleveland Mews, a 66-unit apartment building in Redfern is saving 82 per cent in energy use through lighting upgrades and installing heat pumps for the swimming pool and spa
Smart strata maintenance
As Honeywell explains: “’Data-driven analytics’ and the ‘Internet of Things’ are more than just buzzwords. In action, they can have a meaningful impact on building spaces, from pointing out when an air handler unit might soon conk out, so you can fix it immediately and ensure the air conditioning flows uninterrupted during the hot summer months, to combining analytics with mobile applications that enable occupants to indicate if they’re too hot or too cold”.
Meanwhile, maintenance tasks can be automated. A cooling system that breaks down can now send an alert to the building manager who can automatically call in the required tradesperson.
Tradespeople can be granted better access to the building with provisions for remote entry that record who was in the building when.
When this smart home technology is then also applied to individual apartments, it proves a very real drawcard for residents.
Features like keyless entry, automated lighting, and automated temperature control allow an apartment to better cater to an individual occupant’s needs.
For example, they enter the apartment their smart phone, it automatically turns on required lighting, opens or closes the curtains or blinds (depending on the time of day), and commences cooling or heating.
Voice control might then allow them to switch on the television or music, order pizza or have their schedule read to them for the next day.
And for both apartment buyers and renters, this automation is proving attractive.
Domain recently noted:
“The drive to deliver high-tech apartments in Australia is backed by a recent US property industry survey that found 72 per cent of potential buyers aged under 34 years would be willing to pay for smart technology, and that 44 per cent of millennials would rather have an apartment equipped with smart technology than one with a parking space.
“Another survey of particular interest to investors found 86 per cent of renters aged under 35 years, and 65 per cent of baby boomers, would be willing to pay higher rents for a “smart” apartment equipped with automated or remotely controlled devices.
“Projects that give residents instant access to services and unprecedented power over the way their apartment functions by simply tapping on a smart phone are attracting owner-occupiers, as well as investors who want to ensure their asset continues to entice tenants.”
About Lera Smart Home Solutions
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.