Last edited 26 Jan 2021

Main author

BSRIA Institute / association Website

Trends towards wearables and wellbeing in buildings


In September 2017, BSRIA launched its White Paper - ‘Trends towards wearables and wellbeing in buildings – a threat or opportunity for the HVAC industry?’.

The paper defines wearables as:

'Either an article, a device or an item of clothing which can be worn (or possibly carried as an implant), has a degree of 'intelligence' built into it. It can also potentially communicate with the Internet of Things, either directly or indirectly - for example, via a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone.'

Wearables include everything from smart watches, which can record and transmit a huge range of different types of information about the wearer and his or her health, to smart glasses, smart jewellery and even smart clothing.

As well as helping the wearer to interact more effectively with his or her environment, wearables open a range of new opportunities for building systems, along with some important challenges.

Krystyna Dawson, Business Manager of BSRIA’s World Market Intelligence Division, explained:

“Traditionally, HVAC management systems have focussed strongly on ensuring energy efficiency, which also reduces costs, while keeping system failures and down-time to a minimum. Increasingly, the comfort of the building’s occupants is recognised as an important goal in itself and as one that contributes to employee productivity and hence to the bottom line.

"Wearables have the potential to help with all of these objectives. By tracking the wearer’s movements they can help ensure that heating and cooling is directed to where it is needed and take account of variable factors like body heat.

"They also provide the potential to help provide a personalised environment suited to the individual wearer. If the wearer’s personal preferences are known then the local environment can be adjusted to the ‘optimal’ temperature, humidity, etc. A smart watch can even potentially signal that the wearer is tired and in need of more ventilation.

"This of course raises huge questions. The first is one of privacy and, more specifically, whether it is reasonable to expect wearers to share information about their personal state with a building system, with subsidiary questions about how else the information might be used and how it will be secured against misuse.

"The second big question is how far a building system is capable of exploiting this new wealth of information. Providing a ‘personalised’ environment requires an HVAC system that can direct heat, cooling and ventilation in a very granular way and also respond quickly to changes. Failing this, the system might fall back on the majority preference of those in an area of the building.

"There are also issues around standards and protocols to enable all of these systems and devices to interact.

“This new wave of technology throws out huge opportunities for existing suppliers, but also for new suppliers to disrupt the market. It also marks yet another great leap forward for data and analytics one of the vital drivers of building services.”

This article was originally published here in September 2017 by BSRIA.


[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again