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PropTech & Smart Building Glossary

 Here you can find explanations for all keywords related to the topics of PropTech, Smart Building and Commercial Real Estate.

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Access Control

Smart Access Solutions allow a user to enter specific areas or rooms by using different methods such as a mobile app, a QR code or an NFC chip. This makes it more convenient for the person trying to gain access and for the administrator who can easily add or remove users without the need of a physical key.

Air Handling

This technology uses sensors to measure the air quality in a building. After analysing the current status, it cleans the air and improves the humidity by using different devices such as ventilators or humidifiers. This smart solution can also adapt to changes in occupancy and make intelligent decisions depending on how many people are in a room.


BIM or Building Information Modeling is a term for a solution and process that aims to make planning, construction, and operation more efficient, by relying on various data. It helps to automate processes and can make them accessible for several people/parties at the same time.

This can be applied to different physical assets such as streets, public infrastructure, bridges, tunnels but also real estate. It will most often be commercial real estate, as it is way more complex than residential buildings and offers more information sources.

Building Automation is a system that controls a building’s central functions such as HVAC, lighting, energy supply, security and more. By utilizing the IoT, AI and machine learning, these processes can become more efficient and safe.

Building Operating System (BOS)

A building operating system creates the connection between hardware and software. It collects data from all different meters and sensors in the house, analyses it and shows the information on a central database. This is an essential tool to understand energy, water, gas consumption and maintenance problems.

BYOD Environment

Bring your own device or BYOD means that employees can bring their own computer/laptop/… and use it within the company. This can increase the productivity of them, as they are used to these devices already. It is important to have a good IT security system and integration in place.


Class A Building

This category of buildings usually includes those that are the newest and of the highest quality. They are located in the best areas (Central Business District) and have the best infrastructure. Class A buildings have high-quality amenities and low vacancy rates. 

Class B Building

Buildings in this class are older, have lower quality construction and amenities than class A. Their location is good but not directly in the centre and they are less pricy. This makes it a good option for investors, as they can improve class B buildings to bring them up to class A again.

Class C Building

This is the least desired category of buildings. These are usually older than 20 years and built in less favourable areas. Class C buildings are often run-down and in need of renovation. Their amenities are very old and the rental prices lower than the average rates. 

Commercial Real Estate (CRE) comprises the main activities of investing into, developing and operating a wide range of property types such as: Office buildings (Class A, B, and C), Retail, Multi-Family residences, Industrial buildings, Hospitality, Mix use buildings, Special purpose buildings. These buildings are mostly related to tenants with income-generating activities.



EV Charging Station

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations are becoming an important part of many commercial buildings. The number of people using electric cars is exponentially growing, thus EV charging stations will help you to gain tenants and sell or rent properties faster. You can choose whether you want to provide this service for free or receive a usage fee.


Flexible Room Systems

Flexible Room Systems or Settings make office spaces or retail more efficient. There are many types of these systems from walls that can be removed or changed to furniture that can easily be rearranged. This helps to create spaces for many different events. For example, when many people come for a meeting walls can be changed to create one single big room.


Green building certification is a rating system that allows quantifying and comparing the degree of sustainability of a building.

A green façade is a part of a wall that has modules attached to it which have plants in them. This can either be these individual parts or it can also be achieved by planting climbing plants. Not only does it give a good look to the building, it will also reduce the temperature, increase humidity and improve the overall air quality.



Indoor Navigation

Indoor Navigation allows people to find certain rooms or places within large, complicated buildings by using their phone or other devices as navigation. In combination with room booking or occupancy level management, this can increase productivity in offices, retail or industry a lot. Especially for visitors that don’t know the building, this can become useful.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a system of connected physical objects that is able to exchange data and information by using the internet.






Network (cable, wireless)

A fast and reliable network throughout the building is an essential part of every modern real estate project. Internet needs to be available everywhere to make the foundation for a smart building system.

Noise Reduction

There are many ways to reduce noise in a building. Especially in offices and retail, this can be very useful for wellbeing and productivity. It can be achieved by using certain walls and furniture that absorb sound, as well as using speakers to play calm sound or even noise-cancelling that works similar to headphones.


Occupancy Monitoring

Occupancy measurement sensors can have many advantages, especially for buildings such as office and retail but also certain multi-family buildings. They can measure the number of people in a room and adapt for example the lighting, temperature and air quality. Occupancy sensors also help employees to find a free meeting room for example and book it directly through a platform. These systems can increase productivity and reduce energy costs.


Paging System

A paging system allows for easy and safe one-way communication throughout a building. The system is wired into the building and can either connect to speakers in every room or also just selected rooms. A common use for these systems is in retail, where a cashier can ask for assistance at checkout.

A Passive House is a building standard that aims to provide high levels of comfort, while reducing energy consumption related to heating and cooling to a minimum. In order to qualify for a Passive House, certain international requirements have to be met that are given by the Passivhaus Institute. 

Photovoltaic Solar Panels

By using the photovoltaic effect, these solar panels can generate electricity. With a smart regulation system, the electricity can be either used in the building, saved in large batteries or also sold back to the electric network. This can have a big positive impact on a building’s energy consumption and will also contribute to efficient smart cities.

The word PropTech is a connection of the two words “Property” + “Technology”. It is describing all kinds of technologies that are used within the real estate market. Other words that get used from time to time are “ReTech” for real estate technology and “CRETech” for commercial real estate technology.



A Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT is a company that owns and operates commercial real estate in order to create a return for their investors.

Robot Lawn Mower

For buildings with large grass areas, these robots can help reducing costs for staff that otherwise has to do this job manually. In combination with a smart building system, they can be activated and controlled from everywhere.

Robot Vacuum

Robot Vacuums can automatically clean the floor of buildings. In combination with a smart building system, they can be activated and controlled from everywhere.


A “Smart City” has the goal to solve a large number of problems related to urban living that currently exist and will be of even greater importance in the future. This includes environmental issues such as climate change, pollution and the extinction of species. It is also related to problems within the society such as affordable housing, ethical living and working conditions. Lastly, it is trying to solve economical issues like high unemployment rates, inefficient production and distribution.

Smart Shading

Smart Shading uses sensors to automate the opening and closing of shades mounted on buildings. Depending on how much light is shining on the sensors, or how high the temperature is inside or outside, the automation will adjust the shades to maintain a level of lighting or temperature within a building. This also helps to reduce energy consumption.

Smart HVAC

Smart HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) is used to control the complete climate in a building. Multiple device work together to achieve the best possible air quality and temperature. These solutions can sometimes also be used with existing smart hardware from other providers to create network that can exchange information to improve energy efficiency and living quality for tenants.

Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostats can be used for several types of heating. For traditional heaters or floor heating. The device gets installed at the same spot as your normal thermostat and will be connected to a central platform. It can be used to regulate heating according to energy consumption and thus safe costs.

A smart meter is a device that measures the consumption of electricity, gas or water. In comparison to a regular meter, they can send real time data to analyse consumption at different times of the day, find potential outages and better estimate the amount of to pay at the end of a month/year.

Smart Glass

Smart Glass can switch the opacity of windows, meaning it can either be transparent, translucent or in between. This technology works in several different ways, either by changing the voltage, light or also heat on the glass. It can benefit tenants by creating privacy (for example in meeting rooms) and reducing energy costs by serving as a sort of shading.

Smart Grid

Smart Energy Management

To manage the total energy consumption in a building, smart management software can help. It analyses the data from different sensors and smart meters installed in a building and then finds patterns or issues within the energy network. This will optimize the energy usage, reduce costs and emissions.

Smart Door Lock & Bell

A system with a smart door lock and bell serves as the entrance method to most office buildings and multi-family houses. With standard features such as communicating with the person at the door through camera and microphone, but also extras like giving special access codes for post and delivery services.

Smart Security Systems

A smart security system is a solution that uses hardware and software to provide the best security against outside threats. Sensors on windows and doors, cameras, lights and other hardware communicates through a platform to alert the building’s security or police when detecting any unexpected events. This can also include internal threats such as fire and water or gas leaks. 

Smart Video Surveillance

Smart surveillance cameras communicate with each other to detect threats more easily. These cameras use AI technology to identify objects or people that should not be at specific places or that have a suspicious behaviour. They can be integrated in a smart security system.

Smart Smoke Detectors

Just like a normal smoke detector, this technology can identify if there is a large amount of smoke or carbon monoxide. But instead of just making a loud sound, it can alert the security system where exactly the fire is and also send alarms to people in the building, either by speakers or also on their smartphone/computer.

Smart Water Detectors

There are several use cases for smart water detectors, for example on pipes in the building where they detect a change in pressure. In bathrooms or kitchens, these sensors can be used to detected overflowing of water and then automatically shut the water-tap. When any potential issue is detected, they will report to the main smart security system.

Smart Gas Detectors

Gas detectors can recognize several different types of gasses, once their concentration hits a limit set by the sensor, they will automatically send an alarm to the smart security system. In combination with switches at gas pipes, they can also automatically shut them off.

Smart Elevator Systems

Smart Elevators can communicate with security and safety systems in case of any malfunctions. This also helps to decrease the response time in case of an emergency. Additionally, a display can be mounted in the elevator to show various information about the building, general information as well as advertisement.

Smart parking solutions can organise big parking lots easily. Cameras can detect free spaces and send this information to a parking management platform and also the drivers themselves. This helps to prevent parking spaces from overcrowding and reduces the time it takes to find a spot.

Smart Audio & Conferencing System

These systems help to create multimedia stations for meetings, virtual conferences and more. By connecting these systems, people from different rooms can participate in the same meeting for example.

Smart Watering

Plants are an important part of a building. No matter if they are inside or outside, smart watering systems make sure there is always sufficient water available so that none of them have to dry up.

Smart Device Management

A Smart Device Management system connects to all smart devices in a building and can read out data from these and configure automations. In comparison to a BOS, this is exclusively for smart sensors and appliances.

Smart Systems for Hotels

A hotel or hospitality service has a variety of tasks that are exclusively for this type of building. For example, managing guest’s devices, allocating door keys, the reception, smart heating and energy for individual rooms. This type of system can connect to sensors and devices around the building to manage and analyse data.

There are a variety of materials that can be used in construction, to reduce waste, energy consumption and save resources. Some sustainable materials are bamboo, wool, straw, cork, recycled steel, recycled wood, and timbercrete.


Real Estate Tokenization is the process of dividing a building into digital shares that represent partial ownership, based on blockchain technology. After issuing these so-called “Tokens”, which hold a specific value, they can be exchanged on secondary markets and thus increase the liquidity of real estate investments.



A “Vertical City” is a very tall building that incorporates different kinds of amenities that can be related to housing, working, healthcare, education, culture, tourism, production, and more. It provides space for a large number of people and can potentially help to solve the problem of overpopulation.