UL and TIA Announce SPIRE Smart Building Assessment Program

By Larry O'Brien

Industry Trends

Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) recently announced that they would provide a joint program for assessing smart buildings.  The SPIRE Smart Building Program will offer both self-certification programs as well as Verified Assessment Ratings completed jointly by UL and TIA that measure the effectiveness and security of smart buildings based on six primary criteria: life and property safety, health and well-being, connectivity, power and energy, cybersecurity and sustainability.  

The press release states that it is the first and only program of its kind.  Given the six dimensions measured in the certification process, they could be right.  There are similar efforts to certify certain aspects of the built environment, but none have the same scope.  The US Green Building Council’s LEED Certification focuses on sustainability.  Arc Skoru helps power the LEED certification and has a relationship with Green Business Certification Inc. The WELL building certification standard focuses on the human health and well-being aspect of smart buildings.  

SPIRE Smart Building Assessment Program

Cybersecurity and Smart Building Certification

The cybersecurity aspect of SPIRE is one thing that sets it apart.  UL is well-known and has longstanding expertise in safety science, standards development, advisory, testing, and certification.  UL 2900 is a Series of Standards for cybersecurity that addresses the testing and certification requirements for products and processes as well as specific industry systems.  A primary reason this program was launched was the increasing interconnectedness of all building systems through the increased adoption of IoT technologies throughout the building infrastructure, leaving smart buildings more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and cyber risk.  
This is not a spur of the moment effort either, as UL and TIA have been developing the certification program for two years in cooperation with other industry leaders like Corning Optical Communications.  It’s also very timely, as most end-users in the building automation industry are struggling with how to adapt to the new reality brought on by COVID-19, and are also looking for a path to future resilience and sustainability.  

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