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Internet of Things for Smart Buildings
Internet of Things for Smart Buildings

Internet of Things for Smart Buildings: Leverage IoT for smarter insights for buildings in the new and built environments

By Harry G. Smeenk
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Book Mar 2023 306 pages 1st Edition
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Product Details

Publication date : Mar 31, 2023
Length 306 pages
Edition : 1st Edition
Language : English
ISBN-13 : 9781804619865
Category :
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Internet of Things for Smart Buildings

An Introduction to IoT and Smart Buildings

Smart buildings use Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, and software to monitor and control various building functions to optimize the building’s environment and operations. They improve building efficiencies, lower costs, and improve occupant satisfaction. What constitutes a smart building? How many IoT sensors are required, and how many applications are needed to determine the degree of building smartness?

Internet of Things for Smart Buildings is a comprehensive guide for those who want to build either a greenfield smart building (new) or retrofit a built environment. Almost every function within a building is now a candidate for building smart building applications and IoT devices. Whether you start with one function or multiple functions, this book will review the many opportunities and technologies used to build a smart building. Edge routers, numerous IoT sensors and devices, the various connection options available, and the software required both locally and via the cloud to make it all work together seamlessly will be discussed.

Due to the various technologies, and the number of vendors and products involved, smart building projects can be complex and sometimes overwhelming. Smart building stacks can be used to map building products, IoT devices, and technologies for comparison or to identify gaps in a vendor’s product or from a customer’s requirement perspective. Complete with product, solution, and technology descriptions, examples, and recommendations, this book will help you decide which projects are right to build your smart building, and show you how to develop your technology and business stack.

This chapter will lay out the basics by defining what a smart building is and the contribution of the IoT to smart buildings. We’ll start by giving an example of a person’s typical day working in a smart building and the many smart features and benefits they may come across. We’ll review traditional building issues and the benefits of developing a smart building solution to resolve these issues.

To better understand how the industry got here, we will provide a basic history and evolution of building control systems, intelligent buildings, and the IoT. We will discuss the many benefits of a smart building for building owners, operators, occupants, and the community. Finally, we will introduce how smart buildings contribute to smart cities.

In this chapter, we’re going to cover the following main topics:

  • What a smart building is with an example of a day in a smart building
  • What the IoT is
  • How smart buildings and IoT came together
  • The benefits of having a smart building
  • A review of traditional building issues and how smart buildings solve these
  • Why we need smart buildings to have a smart city
  • The history of building control systems and evolution to smart buildings

A day in a smart building

Imagine for a moment that you are a highly experienced building engineer working for a property management company in their regional office located in an eight-floor downtown commercial office building. Imagine this building is a smart building and what a typical day might look like. This section will provide an example of the many smart building benefits and features this person might encounter. The example is used to place you in the smart building right away to begin to understand what a smart building is from its numerous applications and functions.

Arrival and access

You arrive at the building’s parking lot in your Electric Vehicle (EV), and you are notified via your smartphone or car display that spot #304 on the third floor is the closest EV charging spot available. Almost 40% of parking spots are EV charging spots in this smart building versus 2-5% in non-smart buildings. As you approach the building, your smartphone displays the real-time Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) score for the entrance lobby, the elevator banks and elevators, your floor’s lobby, and your office.

You are comforted to know that this smart building uses the very latest in IoT environmental sensors to continuously measure the air quality in your office, conference rooms, and common areas such as breakrooms and restrooms. In a post-pandemic environment, indoor air quality standards, regulations, and recommendations have been implemented around the world to ensure building occupants have safe air quality levels. An example of how IAQ constantly changes during the day is in a conference room. As more people enter the room, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels may increase beyond recommended levels, requiring the building’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system to open air dampers to let more fresh air in to keep the IAQ score within recommended ranges.

The state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS) uses IoT sensors and controllers to monitor and control all the building’s various systems. These systems typically include HVAC, safety and security, cameras/CCTV, fire alarms, lighting, water, gas, other fluids, networking, communication, and so on. These systems provide a wealth of information about how the building is performing and are all well-suited for automation for efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

As you enter the building, occupancy sensors, facial recognition cameras, card access readers, smartphone QR codes, or any other IoT device solution approves your entrance, opens the doors, and registers you as entered the building, either as an occupant or guest. Guests may pre-register their information prior to arrival or they may be directed to a reception desk, a kiosk, or a phone system to complete registration. For existing occupants entering the building, a wealth of stakeholder-approved information is now accessed indicating the occupants’ preferences.

Information, preferences, and data

Using the occupant’s stored information, the smart elevator flashes a personalized welcome screen, selects an elevator car, opens the door automatically, and delivers the occupant to the correct floor, all touch free for added safety. Digital information is provided in the elevator highlighting that car’s IAQ, today’s building events and announcements, along with today’s cafeteria lunch special. As the elevator is on its way, your office lights turn on, the temperature is automatically adjusted to your preference, and your favorite music begins to play.

Once in your office, you immediately begin checking the numerous systems and portfolio buildings your company monitors in your Virtual Network Operations Center (VNOC). This requires enormous amounts of bandwidth, which is provided in this smart building via a high-bandwidth fiber-optic cable backhaul network. Using fiber-optic cables provides for greater capacity, increased speeds, reduced latency, and better supports a number of different technologies. A drone delivers your coffee directly to your desk and a FedEx in-building robot delivers your documents. Another robot fills components and supplies for inventory in the storage area.

As you prepare for the team meeting scheduled later in the day, you take a few minutes to review the real-time and historical energy management information for your office and the building. Recently, IoT sensors and controllers were installed in the energy management system along with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to deliver energy reductions of 20% to 30%. To monitor and improve energy efficiency, an energy accounting system measures, analyzes, and reports on the energy consumption of different activities on a continuous basis.

As part of the smart building’s lighting system, the daylight harvesting system can reduce energy consumption by using daylight to offset the amount of electric lighting needed by dimming or brightening the lights based on the actual daylight available. LED bulbs, voice activation, and motion sensors, along with lighting system management software, allow for additional scheduling and control capabilities.

Since many government agencies across the world offer tax deductions, funding, and/or other incentives for the costs of improving the energy efficiency of buildings, you begin to check to see what programs are available for your building. You note there is a deduction available for the entire cost of installing energy-efficient systems and smart meters in your building and you notify the accounting department to claim these credits. You also note that last month, your building’s solar panels were able to give back to the smart city grid and you’ll need to copy that data report to claim the incentives that are available via the Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) initiative in your area. There may also be carbon footprint credits available you’ll want to check on.

Communications network and collaborative conferencing

As your smartphone rings, you are still amazed by the incredible in-building coverage you have for all your devices through the building’s secure private network. The building owner decided to treat communication and networking as a fourth utility in the building by delivering a highly secure system that provides coverage to 99.9% of the building, including elevators, stairwells, basements, and the parking garage. This privately owned system is comprised of vertical and horizontal fiber runs, coupled with 5G cellular small cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs) as part of the Radio Access Network (RAN). Wi-Fi, point-to-point commercial microwave links, and Bluetooth are also used to connect many IoT devices. Fiber-optic backhaul delivers high bandwidth and reduces latency for overall control.

It’s now 10:00 and you have a meeting scheduled in one of the many smart conference rooms. Since you are now working on a hybrid model, some of your team will be remote today and the smart conference tools will keep the meeting moving forward. You scheduled the room last week using a tenant application provided by the building manager. Lighting levels and the temperature have been automatically set to your profile preferences and the delivery robot has brought drinks and water for everyone.

With collaborative conferencing technology and AI tools, your presentation is automatically loaded from your computer, and audio and visual systems have been automatically turned on. The conference call autodial has launched, and team members are ready to begin the meeting right on time. Wireless broadband and airplay allow others to share data in real time during the meeting. The smart jam whiteboard captures all meeting information and notes, and the auto transcription system automatically captures and develops meeting notes that are sent directly to each participant immediately at the meeting’s conclusion.

During the meeting, you are asked to explain the smart privacy windows installed throughout the building. These sustainable, energy-efficient windows also act as transparent solar panels. Some may even contain antennas to help bring the cellular network into the building. Each window has a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address used to identify itself and communicate with other devices. Since they tint automatically or via remote control, no bulky expensive blinds are required, and they control heat and glare. Immersive display windows/glass may also transform into digital, interactive surfaces. The View smart window company suggests workplace productivity and wellness are improved when such windows are in place, through improved moods, reduced eyestrain, fewer headaches, and less drowsiness.

The meeting is running long so we check to see that the conference room is available for another 2 hours, and we decide to work through lunch. Each person orders lunch from the building’s cafeteria via their smartphone and an autonomous delivery robot arrives 30 minutes later with everyone’s orders. These delivery robots are helping the building’s owner bridge the gap arising from recent labor shortages.

You are alerted via your smartphone that your guest speaker has arrived in the building. As she is registering with the front desk, a wayfinding application is automatically delivered to her smartphone. Wayfinding will help her navigate her way around the building and other unfamiliar environments. It safely manages the movement and flow of people through the building, while encouraging social distancing. It improves the user experience and contributes to a sense of well-being and security. It also saves time as you are not required to leave your meeting to go down to the front entrance to escort your guest.

Smart building infrastructure

This guest is a power vendor, and she is there to deliver a presentation on unique low-voltage power systems now being considered for the building. A few different alternatives are being explored, starting with Power over Ethernet (PoE). In a POE system, electric power and data are transferred using Ethernet cables. Savings are achieved by eliminating separate power supply cabling and outlets. Power over Fiber (PoF) is similar, whereby the fiber-optic cable carries optical power to supply the energy source, and data is transmitted over the same fiber cable.

The meeting will conclude with two short education and training sessions. The first session is on meeting regulatory requirements for your building. There are specific national, provincial, state, county, city, town, and local jurisdiction requirements that vary greatly across countries, regions, and continents. Our instructor does not want to give another boring slide presentation, so they hand us all Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. VR training delivers on-the-job training using real-life settings through an immersive learning experience. By learning by doing, skill retention is high, and workplace productivity is increased.

The second presentation is on new tools that are being used to design and construct or retrofit buildings. Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows us to create a digital twin record of our facility information such as blueprints, emergency plans, plumbing, and electrical installations to store them digitally. 3D laser scanning or building thermal imaging surveys may save time, reduce rework, restore missing data and drawings, reduce liability, and minimize risk. Using these, one can scan any type of building and receive a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) rendering. 360-degree panoramic images are also available. These can be used to reverse engineer an existing building. Detailed mapping is achieved in every location within a building using the latest 3D scanning techniques, drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), terrestrial scanners, and digital photogrammetry.

Later, you are notified via a text message that the predictive maintenance system has identified that a part will need to be replaced based on the mean time between failure calculations. Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) uses historical data to calculate the average time between component and system breakdowns. MTBF is considered a critical tool in the maintenance program to measure performance, safety, and equipment design. The text notification indicated that the parts were ordered and the auto-scheduler was scheduling the installation time and maintenance engineer.

Predictive maintenance technologies are designed to identify potential maintenance issues before they become a problem. With the rise of smart sensors and IoT, these sensors make maintenance smarter, cheaper, and more efficient. These sensors are installed on or near radiators, boilers, pumps, and other machinery. They detect critical levels of noise, vibration levels, leaks, or changes in temperature, and when a certain threshold is achieved, our smart system automatically orders the part and schedules the repair before the issue escalates into a system failure.

Our Smart Building Asset Management program tracks, manages, monitors, and plans our IT assets for all our buildings. We collect the correct information associated with each asset and then assign and collect asset information by property to manage, track, evaluate, and assign costs appropriately. Vendors are assigned to the assets to capture support detail information for easy and efficient vendor support. Cost information is assigned for cost tracking and allocation and to assist us in making information-based decisions regarding our building’s assets. IoT sensors are placed in or on each asset to provide real-time positioning, location, and tracking.

Tenant applications

Your final appointment for the day involves onboarding your newest tenant to the building. Each tenant is provided with our smart building Tenant Mobile Application (TMA), which is designed to give the tenant more control over their environment. The app also will digitalize our tenant-facing services, transactions, and work orders, to enhance the overall Quality of Experience (QoE) for the building’s occupants with numerous amenity services.

From this smart building app, your building occupants can manage tenant services such as submitting and tracking their tenant request work orders, along with receiving cost options and estimates if required. Tenants directly control temperature and lighting along with other comfort settings, eliminating costly building engineer work orders for these. They can check space availability and make reservations for conference rooms, desks, and common-use areas. They can see real-time space occupancy and trend space utilization rates. They may pay their lease rent and fees via the app, and they have access to historical payment information. Incident management and insurance information are also part of the tenant services app.

The smart building app delivers real-time access to the building’s amenities and concierge services. Parking, EV charger availability, bike parking, and storage locker information are available. Using occupancy sensors, the app provides real-time access to the wellness center, yoga studio, and workout facility information to assist tenants in scheduling their workouts. Information regarding public transportation, ride-share services, taxis, and limo services for the building provide direct app access along with pick-up and drop-off location information with IoT cameras for real-time checks.

Food, beverage, and entertainment access coupled with any in-building retail and other amenity marketplace access and information are included along with the building and local community event calendars. Customized apps have been developed for many of our tenants with documents such as human resource manuals, safety manuals, training guides, and surveys. A gamification app was even developed for a high-tech tenant.

In your residential buildings, your renters prefer smart apartments, which make their lives easier, more convenient, and more fun. These smart apartment amenities help tenants automate routine tasks, save money, and to find time to do other things they prefer to be doing. A long list of smart apartment amenities includes smart locks, smart thermostats, smart lighting, a single residential mobile app, Wi-Fi-as-a-service, smart access control, voice control, smart security systems, instant messaging, community events, ridesharing pick-up/drop-off locations, automated package management, in-unit package drop-off, bike sharing, automated maintenance requests, smart appliances, and instant payments. Smart apartment amenities are gaining popularity and there is no end in sight.

In a post-pandemic environment, commercial office buildings, factories, hospitals, and many other building types are making adaptations that work well for social distancing needs. Wide-open floor plans and the ability to scale, move, and function with less physical touch are the new normal. Your smart building includes smart access systems and smart elevators as mentioned earlier. Your updated restrooms include IoT touch-free sinks, paper towel dispensers, and toilets, which also alert building maintenance when soap, toilet paper, and paper towels are running low. Your HVAC filters have been upgraded to hospital-grade ones with built-in IoT sensors that notify you when they need to be replaced. Air and surface disinfectants are designed to mitigate germs and are monitored with IoT sensors.

Your day in the smart building is coming to its conclusion. Your electric car is fully charged, and you have ordered a take-out dinner from the restaurant on the first floor. You are waiting for the delivery robot to meet you in the lobby with your dry cleaning and you have called the elevator from your smart app. As you leave the office, the lights and music are turned off, and the temperature is adjusted to help lower your energy costs.

Hopefully, this hypothetical example of a day in a smart building has begun to highlight the many different aspects and components that can be combined to build your smart building. There is no magical number of components, applications, or amount of data that is collected that constitutes crossing over into the officially a smart building category, but recent industry collaborations are beginning to provide assessment criteria to determine just how smart your building might be and what steps might be required to move to the next level.

Another highlight from your day in the smart building example is that no two buildings will be the same (unless intentionally built as duplicates). While it is obviously easier to build a smart building with a new construction, cost considerations may value-engineer many desired features out. Since most buildings are in the built environment, retrofits and upgrades that contain IoT devices and sensors will be the typical method for transitioning to a smart building. With one target area IoT project or many IoT projects, you’ll be on your way to building your smart building.

Smart building definition

This leads us to the definition of a smart building. Ask many people and you will receive many answers, as there is not a clear definition:

  • According to Paul Wellener et al., at Deloitte Insights, “Smart buildings are digitally connected structures that combine optimized building and operational automation with intelligent space management to enhance the user experience, increase productivity, reduce costs, and mitigate physical and cybersecurity risks.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) defines a smart building as “all building systems are fully integrated and sharing data, so they be managed through a single pane of glass with minimal human intervention.
  • Ernst & Young Global Ltd. (EY Group) states "a smart building can be thought of as an ecosystem, a dynamic entity with many devices of varying age that 'talk to' and depend on one another, sharing data and responding to various needs. Key to this complex interaction of software and hardware is the human element, the overriding “voice,” if you will, of guidance and direction that points all other systems toward those goals".

Throughout this book, we will use the following definition: "A smart building uses an integrated set of technology, systems, and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience".

Types of smart buildings

Throughout this book, we will refer to smart buildings, meaning any type of building. Each building type can implement some or all of the smart solutions we cover throughout the book; however, in this list, we have indicated some focused applications for building types based on their primary function.

Building Category

Building Examples

Focused Smart Building Applications

Agricultural buildings

Barns, greenhouses, silos, coops

Temperature, humidity, lighting

Commercial buildings

Multistory with at least 50% used for commercial activities such as restaurants, retail, shops

HVAC, energy, occupancy, asset tracking

Data centers

Standalone and mixed-use data centers

Temperature, humidity, security


Universities, schools, colleges, daycare, technical

Air quality, occupancy, access, security

Event buildings

Stadiums, arenas, theaters, auditoriums, conference centers,

Occupancy, safety, security systems

Government or civic buildings

Courts, post offices, tax offices, jails, admin buildings, museums, police and fire stations, military, community centers, libraries, and so on

Air quality, occupancy, access controls


Lodging, hotels, motels, resorts, historic inns, boutique hotels, B&Bs, cruise ships

Guest amenities, cleaning, security, energy

Industrial or manufacturing

Buildings for manufacturing, production, assembly, repairs, altering, renovating, ornamenting, power plants, water plants, and so on

Asset tracking, wayfinding, spills, leaks, preventative maintenance


Hospitals, medical offices, local ER shops, doctors’ offices, clinics

Navigation, patient tracking, wayfinding

Office buildings

One-story, multistory, campuses, mostly used for offices

HVAC, energy, air-quality systems, workflow

Owner occupied

Typically, a company owns and uses the building for its company’s needs

Employee workflow tools. Air quality

Residential / Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs)

Apartments, condominiums, townhomes, dormitories, MDUs, nursing homes

Access, security, safety systems, air quality

Recreational buildings

Fitness centers, bowling alleys, gyms, ice rinks, indoor swimming pools

Access, security, safety, cleaning


Churches, temples, synagogues, temples, mosques, cathedrals, monasteries

Access, security, safety, air quality


Stores, malls, shops, big-box stores, grocery stores

Occupancy, security, asset tracking


Airports, train stations, bus terminals, subway stations, ferry stations, others

Occupancy, security, safety systems


Private, public, climate-controlled, distribution centers, storage

Asset tracking, wayfinding

Table 1.1 – Types of smart buildings and their applications

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT connects and exchanges data from physical objects to other physical objects using processing ability, software, and other technologies. While the term internet is used, it is considered a misnomer since devices do not need to be connected to the public internet. In many applications today, devices and sensors are connected to a private network where they can be individually addressable or even connected directly to each other.

IoT crosses many industries and markets and is not limited to buildings; however, this book’s focus will be on its application in buildings. Most people today learned of IoT through the consumer market and through smart homes with features such as smart lighting, thermostats, cameras, security systems, and smart appliances. Other common applications today include smart speakers, smart watches, and healthcare devices – all IoT connected to our smartphones.

Numerous industrial applications use IoT devices to collect and analyze data for connected equipment and often are referred to as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Operational Technology (OT) is often combined with IIoT to regulate and monitor industrial systems and manage assets. Other IoT applications include manufacturing, agriculture, energy, environmental, military, and metropolitan systems to manage cities and utilities.

While many people believe that IoT is a recent technology development, the concept of smart devices was introduced in 1982 with a modified Coca-Cola machine becoming the first connected device. In September 1985, Peter T. Lewis introduced the concept and term Internet of Things for the first time to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 15th Annual Legislative Weekend in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t officially named the Internet of Things until 1999 by MIT’s Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs, Kevin Ashton. During his presentation to Procter & Gamble, he described IoT for the first time and the definition has evolved since then.

IoT challenges

IoT devices are used to monitor and control many of a building’s electrical, mechanical, and energy management systems to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Building IoT (BIoT) suffers from platform fragmentation, interoperability issues, and lack of standards making it sometimes difficult for devices to speak to each other. Coupled with the numerous options for connecting these devices with fiber-optic cables, copper cables, and an endless list of wireless connectivity options, IoT use in smart buildings creates some challenges that must be considered and managed.

With the large amounts of surveillance sensors and the data that is collected and stored, privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for hackers to create disruption and misuse the information. Many people are concerned that companies and governments collecting this data are also selling it, making us more transparent and making it harder for us to control our privacy.

Data storage challenges include how and where to store all this data, either locally, in the cloud, or in a data warehouse. Questions about how long data should be stored are usually answered by legal requirements and the cost of storage. A return-on-investment business analysis usually answers how long the data will be stored because it is expensive to store data. Access to this data raises other concerns as to who should be able to see and use the data. Another IoT data challenge is how to tag it for commonality and for easier reference later. Today, there are numerous tagging languages being used that are not interchangeable.

Security is one of the biggest challenges and concerns with IoT and smart buildings. These include authentication concerns, unencrypted messages sent between devices, poor handling of security updates, man-in-the-middle attacks, and breaches. It is important to understand that if everything is connected, then access is also connected. A recent massive data breach at retail giant Target allegedly resulted partly from their failure to properly segregate systems and payment card data. According to Jaikular Vijayan’s February 6, 2014, Computerworld article Target breach happened because of a basic network segmentation error, the payment data was stolen by hackers using stolen login credentials for the HVAC system and then moved about undetected on Target’s network. IoT systems control large amounts of safety system sensors such as smoke detectors, contact sensors, motion sensors, door access controllers, and numerous others. Potential challenges include device or communication failures, software bugs, or other unforeseen bad app interactions, all of which could cause an unsafe or dangerous physical state.

Design challenges include solving communications issues between various systems, confusing terminology, scalability, environmental/sustainability impacts, device obsolescence, and lack of interoperability. Additionally, designs need to consider organization capabilities, cultural requirements, industry standards, and the numerous governmental codes, regulations, and laws from the various agencies and departments.

Finally, a mere attempt at a smart building IoT project creates unique business planning and project management challenges. IoT projects run differently than simple, traditional IT, manufacturing, or construction projects. Smart IoT projects are complex, and designers and project managers are generally inexperienced in this area. IoT smart building projects have longer timelines from design to build to occupancy, and technology advances are outpacing these timelines. Return on investment models are speculative at best because there are so few implementations to date, and there is little time to conduct pilot or prototype testing.

How smart buildings and IoT came together

A major component of IoT is the internet, but as I mentioned earlier, it is not always required. It began in 1962 as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In the early 1970s, it evolved into the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

In the 1980s, ARPANET gained support from commercial service providers to be used by the public, and from there it evolved into the internet. Basic communications for devices were mostly connected by satellites and landlines. Tim Berners -Lee proposed the framework of the World Wide Web in 1989 and that laid the foundation of the internet. Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) were introduced in 1993 with the Department of Defense providing a system of 24 satellites. Privately owned, commercial satellites were placed in orbit soon after and IIoT became much more functional.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) was used primarily as an inventory tracking solution and was a prerequisite for the IoT in the early 2000s. Devices were tagged and computers were used to manage, track, and inventory them. Walmart and the US Department of Defense were the first to have large-scale deployments of this inventory system. This tagging of things has evolved from RFID chips to digital watermarking, barcodes, and QR codes today.

Every item that was tagged was also given a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) was implemented by major internet service providers and web companies in June of 2021. They agreed to increase the address space on the global internet by enabling this new protocol for their services and products. Based on 128-bit addressing, IPV6 can support 340 trillion addresses – plenty to last many years.

Considered to be the first IoT device – the first thing that began the IoT, John Romkey’s 1990 toaster, could be turned on and off over the internet. The toaster was wired directly to a computer since Wi-Fi did not exist yet. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky built the Trojan Room Coffee Pot in 1993 in the University of Cambridge’s computer laboratory. A picture of the interior of the pot was uploaded to the building’s server, allowing an updated image to be viewed online three times per minute.

Transistors were introduced in the 1940s and the computer was invented in 1951. Couple these with ARPANET, mentioned earlier and introduced in the 1960s, and you now have the three components of the digital revolution. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, people started becoming more environmentally conscious. The 1970s energy crisis saw energy prices rise significantly and the green building movement was kicked off with US government legislation for eco-infrastructure.

In Chapter 2, Smart Building Operations and Controls, we will explore in more detail the evolution of various building systems, but for now, we will provide a quick summary. The term intelligent buildings was introduced in 1981 by United Technology Building Systems to refer to buildings with its HVAC systems, with a self-claim of minimal energy consumption and better building efficiency. The 1980s also introduced us to mobile phones and personal computers.

The 1980s property boom saw a shift toward intelligent buildings. There was a demand that all these new buildings be as efficient as possible. These intelligent building systems lacked connectivity, but by the early 1990s, the World Wide Web and the internet were introduced. Businesses and buildings were focused on energy-efficient buildings and digital transformation.

As the 21st century began, heavy emphasis was placed on the introduction of computerized programs that better managed HVAC systems to lower energy costs and manage a building’s operations. The term smart building was coined; however, it would take years before the first smart building was built. To this point, intelligent buildings relied on computer programs and RFID tagging systems.

For the introduction of IoT in buildings, we need to look at the sensors that were introduced and connected. Temperature, humidity, motion, gas/air, and electrical current monitoring sensors could be considered the first introduction of IoT sensors in buildings. The final step was to connect all these sensors together in an IoT network and develop software to monitor, manage, and control them.

Figure 1.1 highlights the many applications where IoT sensors and controllers are used to create a smart building.

Figure 1.1 – IoT applications in today’s commercial buildings

Figure 1.1 – IoT applications in today’s commercial buildings

The introduction of IoT provides building owners and operators the opportunity to quickly transition their conventional building to a smart building by simply adding IoT sensors and devices, connectivity, and software-driven applications. But technology simply for technology’s sake should not be the objective. These must be purpose-driven to deliver beneficial outcomes for each of the many stakeholders that are reviewed in the next section.

The stakeholders and benefits of a smart building

To best understand the benefits of smart buildings, we need to first understand who the stakeholders are since the benefits vary greatly for each:

  • Owners and Financial Communities: Building owners can range from a single individual, a partnership or small group of owners, an owner-occupied company, and commercial real estate companies, to banks, investment funds, and Real Estate Investment Funds (REITs). Their common interest is to generate income, increase the value of their asset(s), lower operations costs, gain access to real-time and historic dashboard information, and leverage special energy and tax advantages many countries offer them.
  • Operators of Commercial Real Estate: In some cases, the building owner will also operate the building on a day-to-day basis; however, in most cases, owners will outsource that responsibility to companies that specialize in this area, such as commercial real estate companies or property/building management companies. Their focus is on safety, operations, efficiency, cost controls, leasing, quicker response times, accuracy, monitoring and managing building systems, and customer satisfaction.
  • Occupants/Tenants/Visitors: These are residents in an apartment complex, employees of the owner-occupied company, lease tenants and visitors in a commercial office building, medical staff and patients at a hospital, attendees in a place of worship, or teachers and students in a school. Their common interest is safety, security, comfort, information, direct controls, and their overall QoE.
  • Suppliers/OEMs/System Integrators: This group includes organizations that contribute or support any of the other stakeholders – Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), system integrators, cleaning crews, maintenance crews, and numerous others. They are interested in improving the efficiency of delivering their products and services while expanding their offerings and revenues.
Figure 1.2 – Smart building stakeholders

Figure 1.2 – Smart building stakeholders

  • Local Community/Citizens: This group includes the people that may pass by or look at the building, neighboring buildings, and citizens of the community that benefit from the service(s) the buildings provide (that is, jobs, tax revenues, space, and access). Beyond the use purpose of the building (that is, school, office, hospital, hotel, etc.), these smart buildings can give back extra energy to the grid, reduce the carbon footprint, provide information, and contribute to the overall smart city objectives.
  • Government: All levels of government, whether it be local, state, or national, are smart building stakeholders. Beyond the similarities to the citizens’ benefits, the various government levels want to achieve energy-grid-give-back, green and sustainable buildings, carbon footprint reductions, and the added tax revenues smart buildings bring. Since the government owns and operates many buildings itself, it will achieve operational, energy efficiency, and performance improvements similar to the owners outlined earlier.

Smart buildings operate on a scale; therefore, some buildings will have just a few sensors while others will have many. Building size will also vary, as will the type of building and its purpose. Regardless of size, smart buildings provide digital data about the building itself and the activities within it. The following areas are overarching benefits regardless of building type.

Safety and security

Making sure your building occupants are safe and secure is one of the most important aspects of providing a smart building. Smart building technology can help manage numerous safety-related aspects of facility operations, for instance, remote monitoring of emergency lighting, remote access control, and smart fire prevention systems. In a post-pandemic world, safety starts with IoT sensors everywhere to keep people moving and in a touch-free environment with door access and visitor registration.

Occupancy sensors and wayfinding sensors can assist with safe distancing. IoT within smart buildings supports the functionality of security cameras and fire and alarm systems. IoT air sensors measure, monitor, and control indoor air quality requirements. HVAC automation and controls ensure an automatic supply of fresh air when carbon dioxide levels exceed acceptable limits. Indoor positioning and asset tags help to manage and secure assets. Public safety officials have access to digital information for the building and a reliable communication system that will assist in digitally locating individuals in the case of an emergency.

Cost reduction

Building owners and operators are continuously looking for ways to reduce costs and fend off rising costs to improve the bottom line. The use of IoT sensors in smart buildings greatly contributes to simplifying or eliminating tasks and automating others to lower costs.

Take the case of a tenant in a non-smart building wishing to have the temperature changed in their office suite. They would call the maintenance department, who would open a ticket, and a building engineer would be deployed to the suite to manually change the temperature. This could take 45 minutes or more. With IoT sensors in smart thermostats coupled with a tenant smartphone app, this could be handled directly by the tenant in under 30 seconds.

Energy costs are the most expensive line item after personnel/staff expenses. Smart buildings make it possible to achieve greater savings while simultaneously enhancing occupants’ comfort. Energy management and HVAC systems typically are the largest benefactors of smart building IoT, seeing cost reductions anywhere from 10% to 35%.

Smart buildings use information and communication technologies to connect building operating systems together, allowing managers to optimize operations. They also provide greater visibility and control around energy usage and consumption. Facility controls and building operations can all be monitored, controlled, and optimized remotely with the use of IoT. Building management systems, HVAC systems, and all other building systems can benefit from smart building automation and optimization using IoT devices. Predictive and preventative maintenance, inspections, and compliance are cost reduced with the use of IoT. Smart lighting systems and occupancy sensors can lower the cost of electricity. IoT also makes potential problems and issues easier to identify, diagnose, and manage.

Revenue generation and increased asset value

Maintaining and improving lease occupancy rates is one of the highest priorities for building owners and operators. Using smart building IoT solutions helps to differentiate the building from others to help attract and retain tenants and to increase the value of the building asset. New tenant amenity service offerings provide opportunities to charge tenants more. Sustainability initiatives increase the building’s value while reducing its carbon footprint.

MIT Center for Real Estate and Real Estate Investment Lab published a pre-pandemic journal article reporting that smart buildings were getting a 37% premium in rent and that their transaction rate went up by 44%. Most companies focused on delivering smart HVAC and energy systems claim reductions from 15% to 40% in energy use and costs.

Improved quality of experience

Often tenants list a comfortable work environment as one of the top criteria for their office. People want to be able to control the airflow around their seating area and the color, tint, and direction of their lighting.

Smart buildings and IoT can greatly improve the occupant’s satisfaction with the building. Providing more information, such as real-time IAQ results, wayfinding information, and digitally broadcast information, is high on occupants’ want lists. A long list of amenities improved by IoT includes direct access to parking, workout facilities, cafeterias, marketplaces, and other location information and scheduling.

Enterprises and companies located in smart buildings can benefit from asset location and tracking, navigation, wayfinding, real-time occupancy, workforce applications, and the analytical data that can be sourced from each of these. Improved efficiencies, healthy workspaces, and cleaner air can increase productivity and reduce sick days.

Traditional building issues solved by IoT and smart buildings

IoT and smart building solutions can help solve many of the issues facing building owners and operators today. While the building industry has been traditionally slow to adopt technology solutions, recent worldwide health events and the explosion of IoT sensors and devices are helping speed up adoption.

The new normal in a post-pandemic world will require permanent changes to create healthy buildings. Hands-free access and devices, IAQ monitoring, occupancy sensing, space cleaning, UV lighting, and space management IoT smart building solutions will remain in place for many years, if not forever. Smart, healthy buildings will be a requirement with IoT sensors and smart applications helping owners and operators to visualize mitigation efforts in real time.

Multiple vendor solutions using proprietary, disconnected systems that create vendor lock-in are now being connected with IoT and IP solutions, allowing buildings to use best-in-class products and solutions together at a much lower cost. New non-proprietary IoT network solutions easily connect directly to a building’s communication protocol (that is, BACnet) or become the communications protocol in lower-class buildings that do not have a communications protocol today. These IoT and smart building solutions are creating differentiation between buildings and increasing the value of assets in a competitive environment.

Workflow management and work order IoT solutions solve the need to constantly dispatch expensive engineers to perform occupant-requested tasks that they can now perform with their smartphones. IoT sensors and monitors allow building operators to monitor, manage, and control multiple buildings at once from a remote Virtual Network Operations Center (VNOC). Smart predictive IoT solutions allow for multiple maintenance tasks to be scheduled together to prevent system failures and outages.

Government and tenant pressure to optimize buildings for financial and environmental reasons are being eased with IoT solutions in energy management, operational efficiencies, and occupant-facing solutions. IoT solutions can be used to validate that government-funded facilities are up to standards and are properly maintained.

Buildings are being virtualized with consolidated seamless control systems using SaaS-based technologies to solve these problems as building systems move to the cloud/virtualization.

Smart buildings for a smart city

For nearly 2 years, I spent time traveling from city to city and from conference to conference looking for a magical blueprint for building smart cities for my clients. I discovered that communities trying to develop smart cities faced many obstacles, confusion, and limited attempts with few wins. Trying to define smart city was a challenge and each city had widely differing definitions.

Many cities thought free public Wi-Fi and smart lighting were the starting points, but once the vendor-sponsored first few city blocks of smart lighting were completed and city spending priorities were elsewhere, these projects stalled. What I began to recognize was that the path to a smart city began with the buildings themselves and I penned the article The Smart Way to Smart Cities Begins with Buildings.

City leaders and city planners have struggled for years to balance their desire for smart cities with the many other needs of their communities. Clearly, building a smart city will help them resolve some of their challenges, such as improving government services, quality of life, energy efficiency, cost reduction, and sustainability, to name a few. These must be balanced with other pressing issues, such as homelessness, urban growth, resource requirements, and decaying infrastructures. Challenges have resulted in limited smart city projects to date and vendor-sponsored initiatives that, while achieving desired outcomes such as smart lighting, typically only cover small sections of the city, and funds would be required to extend these initiatives to the rest of the city.

Smart buildings offer an opportunity for every city to achieve its goals. Self-managed smart buildings can quickly grow into smart campuses and then smart communities by connecting and sharing services. This scalability can be integrated with the city’s smart city objectives.

Whether buildings serve as schools, hospitals, or offices or medical, hospitality, residential, or industrial purposes, they are in essence small cities unto themselves delivering the same infrastructural functions as cities do. Safety, security, energy, utilities, lighting, communications, ventilation, sanitation, and parking are just a few of the similarities. When these functions are made smart in a building, they can help a city transition similar functions to smart to build a smart city. Basically, a building is a microcosm of a city; therefore, a smart building is a microcosm of a smart city. Connecting smart buildings together can build a smart city foundation.

Buildings and cities must work together to achieve mutual goals. Energy is one of the biggest opportunities and as smart buildings become more energy efficient, they may also be able to give back to the city’s energy grid. IoT sensors and connectivity with the grid make buildings more responsive to grid conditions to reduce stress and improve reliability by cutting energy consumption during high-demand periods. Grid-responsive equipment such as water heaters turn on and off in response to the utility’s peak demand. Buildings can also collect and store energy with solar panels and batteries.

By collecting and analyzing data, safety and security is another area where smart buildings can help build smart cities. With building-mounted cameras and IoT sensors such as gunshot and occupancy sensors, information can be shared with the city’s integrated control center. Suspicious activity observation, traffic management, and crowd control can all be managed centrally. Analytics and machine learning can leverage historical data to predict situations and trigger alarms if needed.

Smart city emergency response starts with smart building information. Police, firefighters, emergency medical responders, and other first responders can access digital information about a building, such as floor plans, what chemicals might be stored there, and what building systems are in use. In the case of a building fire, remote access and control of the building’s management, HVAC, and fire suppression systems can ensure that the proper amount of air is supplied or cut off as needed to manage the fire while the first responders are en route. Video cameras and motion sensors can provide valuable insights and information prior to arrival so they know what to prepare for and what to prioritize. Real-time information regarding the situation can be transmitted directly to hospitals, police, and firefighter support teams.

A building is a physical asset that, when enabled with IoT sensors and software, transforms into a smart asset managing its internal systems more efficiently. These smart assets connected to other smart assets and smart systems become part of the larger city ecosystem. Smart buildings are an important part as they provide a variety of network connectivity options while serving as a platform for other sensors and devices that can capture, share, and communicate with each other. For example, smart buildings can be linked to police departments via IP-connected video and to on-street parking via sensors, as well as to smart outdoor lighting systems, and all of these can function together to provide a responsive and safe environment for residents, businesses, and visitors.

Many of the buildings within a city are government-owned and managed buildings such as courthouses, libraries, fire stations, police stations, schools, community colleges, and others that make up the city’s infrastructure. To build a smart city with smart buildings, it makes sense to incorporate smart requirements into these publicly funded buildings, such as mobility, healthcare, security, lighting, environment, energy, construction, and communications requirements.

Data is collected from almost every smart device and sensor located in, on, or around a building. Public data and information from smart buildings combined with data collected by the government and other sources can be analyzed to solve city problems and make improvements. While, to many, data gathering feels like a privacy invasion, it has become an integral part of life. Experts around the world are constantly creating new solutions and programs to reduce the risk of data breaches. Government entities along with industries are creating privacy guidelines such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

The history and evolution of building control systems

The key to leveraging all these IoT smart building solutions lies in the ability of building owners and operators to unify their legacy building systems with new controls, sensors, and IoT devices for real-time, seamless access, management, and optimization. The evolution of smart buildings didn’t happen overnight; this has been slowly developing over many decades.

Prior to the 1970s, building management systems were local, with simple pneumatic controls. Pneumatics uses pressurized or compressed air that is distributed down a main line to control devices connected to that line. Air leaves through what is called a branch line and these branch lines act as a control signal to a device such as a thermostat and its controlled air damper actuator.

While pneumatics was still in heavy use in the 1980s, analog electric controls were introduced. These simple controls worked by turning a knob that injected resistance into a circuit. This resistance triggered the control device (valve, relay, etc.) to react. Electromechanical control systems were combined with pneumatic systems to control devices. The element would expand or contract on a thermostat that would open or close a circuit to turn the unit on or off. These systems were prone to calibration issues.

This was followed by the introduction and use of microprocessors, computers, and distributed digital process controllers in buildings in the 1990s, dubbing it the era of centralized controls. Direct digital control systems are still used today. Software programs were written allowing technicians and operators to control sequences by changing code. Controllers were daisy-chained together, creating a wired network. Building Automation Systems (BASs) and Building Management Systems (BMSs) were introduced. (We will review these systems in Chapter 2, Smart Building Operations and Controls.)

Fast-forward and the 2000s saw the intelligent buildings era, with the introduction of common in-building communication protocols such as BACnet and LonWorks. These protocols allowed individual devices to communicate with a central building system. Distributed digital computers were located on individual devices and communicated with the central system. Databases were created that facilitated analytics and the growth of energy management systems.

Over the last decade, intelligent buildings have transitioned to the smart buildings of today with central controllers communicating with powerful cloud-based software and AI-based machine learning applications that can optimize building designs, conserve energy, and predict equipment failures before they happen, demonstrating a vast improvement to building management overall. Unfortunately, in 2023, these systems are still disconnected, and sometimes proprietary, leading to multiple applications, silos of data, and user frustration.

I imagine that the next evolution of the smart building will be the unified building. A unified building fully connects and integrates all systems, components, sensors, and devices on a single platform to allow access and control and it will provide a unified view of the building on a single pane of glass. This will provide full integration of energy, facility, IT, security management, and control systems on a comprehensive, unified platform. Fully integrated and connected microprocessor-based controls and sensors will deliver massive amounts of data utilized for ML and AI applications.


This introductory chapter provided you with a view of what it might look like to work inside a smart building and the many productivity, comfort, and efficiency improvements that IoT smart buildings can deliver for the occupants. We established an understanding of what the IoT and smart buildings are and then we connected them together to see the endless possibilities for smart building applications.

These IoT smart building applications solve many of the challenges faced by building owners and operators today. They deliver safe, efficient buildings that are energy efficient, reduce operations and energy costs, increase the value of the asset, and deliver a greatly improved quality of experience for the occupants. All buildings, regardless of function (schools, hospitals, retail premises, hotels, offices, factories, etc.), can achieve these benefits. Since buildings are a microcosm of a city with many similar challenges and requirements, the way to smart cities will need to start with smart buildings.

We touched on a brief history of how building management systems evolved from pneumatic controls to the smart buildings of today. Since a building is made up of a number of systems, the next chapter will review these key systems, their functionality, and how each of these will greatly benefit from IoT smart building applications that you can design to create a smart building.

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Key benefits

  • Discover how IoT solutions transform mechanical and electrical control systems into smart systems
  • Unlock new revenue potential, operational efficiencies, and improved occupant’s quality of life
  • Explore industry thought leadership through author-led real-world applications and use cases


Imagine working in a building with smart features and tenant applications that allow you to monitor, manage, and control every aspect of your user experience. Internet of Things for Smart Buildings is a comprehensive guide that will help you achieve that with smart building architecture, ecosystems, technologies, and key components that create a smart building. In this book, you’ll start by examining all the building systems and applications that can be automated with IoT devices. You’ll learn about different apps to improve efficiency, reduce consumption, and improve occupant satisfaction. You’ll explore IoT sensors, devices, computing platforms, analytics software, user interfaces, and connectivity options, along with common challenges you might encounter while developing the architecture. You’ll also discover how to piece different components together to develop smart buildings with the help of use cases and examples and get to grips with the various IoT stacks. After finding out where to start developing the requirements for your project, you’ll uncover a recommended methodology to understand your current building systems and a process for determining what needs to be modified, along with new technology requirements. By the end of the book, you’ll be able to design and build your own smart building initiative, turning your city into a smart city with one building at a time.

What you will learn

Discover what a smart building is and how IoT enables smart solutions Discover how IoT can make mechanical and electrical systems smart Learn how IoT improves workflow tasks, operations, and maintenance Explore the components and technology that make up a smart building Understand how to orchestrate components to deploy smart applications Build your smart building stack to design and develop smart solutions

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Product Details

Publication date : Mar 31, 2023
Length 306 pages
Edition : 1st Edition
Language : English
ISBN-13 : 9781804619865
Category :

Table of Contents

22 Chapters
Preface Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
1. Part 1: Applications for Smart Buildings Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
2. Chapter 1: An Introduction to IoT and Smart Buildings Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
3. Chapter 2: Smart Building Operations and Controls Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
4. Chapter 3: First Responders and Building Safety Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
5. Chapter 4: How to Make Buildings Smarter with Smart Location Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
6. Chapter 5: Tenant Services and Smart Building Amenities Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
7. Part 2: Smart Building Architecture Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
8. Chapter 6: The Smart Building Ecosystem Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
9. Chapter 7: Smart Building Architecture and Use Cases Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
10. Chapter 8: Digital Twins – a Virtual Representation Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
11. Part 3: Building Your Smart Building Stack Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
12. Chapter 9: Smart Building IoT Stacks and Requirements Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
13. Chapter 10: Understanding Your Building’s Existing Smart Level and Systems Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
14. Chapter 11: Technology and Applications Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
15. Part 4: Building Sustainability for Contribution to Smart Cities Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
16. Chapter 12: A Roadmap to Your Smart Building Will Require Partners Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
17. Chapter 13: The Importance of Smart Buildings for Sustainability and the Environment Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
18. Chapter 14: Smart Buildings Lead to Smart Cities Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
19. Chapter 15: Smart Buildings on the Bleeding Edge Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
20. Index Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
21. Other Books You May Enjoy Chevron down icon Chevron up icon

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