The Pathway to Autonomous Buildings



AUTHOR: WILLIAM RUH


Smart meeting rooms. Smart grids. Smart buildings. Technology adoption presents incredible opportunities for improving our world. However, these innovations alone don’t deliver the outcomes that matter most to people. In our 60 years of creating places at Lendlease, we’ve learned that people want places that are a destination and foster a vibrant community to organically grow and thrive. Places where buildings do no harm to the environment but provide optimal comfort and superior air quality – enabling people to be the best version of themselves.

So how do we get to those important outcomes for people? 

At Lendlease, we recognise that the physical environment is only one aspect of a great place. Digital technology and data provide significant opportunities to enhance what we create and how we create it. We have a vision for a world which is sustainable and designed for the wellness and connectivity of people and believe that Autonomous Buildings will enable us to achieve those important human outcomes. 

What are Autonomous Buildings?


• They are buildings which adapt to the interdependencies of the built world
• They continuously learn and respond to the needs of people and the environment
• They are able to auto-tune to dynamic indoor and outdoor conditions
• They are flexible and empower everyone to work effectively and collaboratively
• They provide insights and clarity that hasn't been possible in the past

How can we benchmark progress toward the creation of truly ‘autonomous’ buildings and cities?

To benchmark our progress to ‘autonomous’ buildings and cities, we can take learnings from the automotive industry. Since 2014, the automotive industry has followed the 6-step taxonomy developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers to measure progress towards the creation of ‘autonomous’ vehicles.

It’s become clear the property industry also needs a reference point by which to outline ‘autonomous’ buildings and cities. The overall promise of ‘autonomous’ is for buildings and cities to automatically adapt to the world at large – be it changing preferences and behaviour of people using the spaces, changes in the environment, changes in regulations mandated at a city or country level. With cloud and artificial intelligence, the property industry will move from a reactive state to a predictive industry which responds dynamically to changes in the built world.

For buildings to move towards this reality – where buildings automatically adapt its behaviour to the preferences of each occupant and stakeholder, there are five foundational steps:

1. Baseline – where diagnostic assessments on data, processes, people and outcomes are conducted
2. Connected – where all data, sensors, processes and outcomes are identified and ‘connected’
3. Smart – where ‘smart technology’ is incorporated across the building or precinct to improve performance of systems such as HVAC, utilities, lifts and connectivity
4. Partially autonomous – where some building facilities are operating without human intervention
5. Autonomous – where the entire building or precinct anticipates and adapts on its own to all the changes


Introducing a five-step framework paving the way to Autonomous Buildings  (1min 20s):


By clearly articulating the five stages to Autonomous Buildings, we aim to propel the industry forward, creating an opportunity to benchmark and achieve better outcomes for the world.

Learn more in our special report: 


Discover The 5 Stages Of ‘Autonomous’ - And Why They Matter