News Brief

A Report Card for “Smart” Buildings

SPIRE is a new program that assesses the performance of smart building technology.

SPIRE graphic showing categories scored
Image: UL
As technology advances, more and more building systems are becoming automated. They self-monitor and send alarms and advice. They allow facility managers to control lighting, HVAC, and more, remotely through apps. Some can even learn from patterns. With all these new technologies, it’s easy to feel out of control and to speculate about real-world performance. Well, these allegedly smart buildings are about to get their report cards.

SPIRE, a new program from UL and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), aims to assess the performance of smart buildings and ultimately make them perform better. SPIRE scores smart buildings in six different categories:

  • Power and energy
  • Health and well-being
  • Life and property safety
  • Connectivity
  •  Cybersecurity
  • Sustainability

Under the health and well-being category, the program assesses indoor air quality, including the system’s ability to monitor and measure IAQ, says Tom Blewitt, vice president and chief technical officer for UL’s Connected Technologies businesses. Thermal management, lighting, and acoustics also come into play, as well as water quality.

As for sustainability metrics, “There is a very robust ecosystem out there around sustainability as it is,” noted Blewitt. “It’s important for us not to duplicate what others are doing well.” So SPIRE looks at whether the building has been certified to a sustainability standard, whether it’s constructed in accordance with green codes, and, importantly, “that the good learnings and practices of sustainability have been implemented.” This includes ongoing monitoring and outcome validation through smart technology. Also measured are waste management and water and energy use.

Right now, the SPIRE program is a self-assessment, but a third-party verification is coming in 2021.

For more information:



Published November 9, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, November 6). A Report Card for “Smart” Buildings. Retrieved from

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