Why do we need smart buildings?

When deployed correctly, technology enables our seamless engagement with physically outstanding, human-centric spaces.

There are three clear and distinct trends driving the desire – and need – for technology to bring our workplaces to life. The following will take a closer look at these trends, exploring how our expectations of the built environment have shifted.

1. Technology in everyday life is driving demand for more data and better services.

Every aspect of our lives is driven by data. We’ve become accustomed to a tech-enabled lifestyle: from education to exercise, entertainment to ecommerce, our reliance on technology in our personal lives has normalized a level of speed, accessibility and convenience, and we now expect this to be present in our professional lives too.

When it comes to the future of the working world, there’s now an undeniable desire for smarter spaces: four fifths of office workers (79%) say they would like to work within a technologically advanced office. And, with nine in ten office workers saying that technology has significantly impacted many areas, or had a life changing impact on all areas of their life, a tech-enabled environment isn’t just a nice-to-have for the working world, it’s essential.

It is, however, important not to deploy technology for technology’s sake. Less than half (47%) of office workers currently working in a technologically advanced building actually use the available tech on a daily basis, suggesting that technology is often implemented without full consideration of the end user. People use technology in their personal lives because it’s useful, not just because it’s there. The workplace of the future must operate in the same way.

2. Changing working habits:

The way we work has changed, and our workplaces need to adapt.

Modern working habits are collaborative and driven by technology. Think shared documents, video conferencing, cloud-based computing, emails and synced digital diaries that give full visibility on who’s doing what and when within your company.

Our day-to-day jobs have become so dependent on the outcomes technology can deliver that 98% of office workers say that they would not be able to do their job with the
same level of ease without technology, and over half say they wouldn’t be able to do their job at all. This change in workplace habits was apparent long before the pandemic, but our workplaces have been slow to adapt to the tech-dependency of the working world.

Offices rely on technology to bring alive great, sociable, collaborative spaces that still allow for individual productivity to flourish.

Beyond tech dependence, the recent pandemic-induced shift in working habits has emphasized how important getting the actual office space right is. Landlords must work harder and more collaboratively to create environments that are attractive to the working world – otherwise, their spaces simply won’t survive.

The buildings in which we work now have to make us want to work there by offering flexible and personalized services.

As working from home has become a more viable option, landlords have an even greater need to cooperate with occupiers to create safe, inspirational and desirable places to work that can attract employees back into the office. Offices need to be user-centric spaces, able to understand and adapt to our usage on a day-to-day basis. The only way to facilitate this is via a robust technological infrastructure that learns from its occupiers and adapts accordingly.

3.The climate crisis:

Tackling the climate crisis is the global imperative of our time. The built environment alone generates emissions equivalent to 8.65 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Buildings, and associated emissions, contribute nearly 40% of all carbon emissions globally, creating mounting pressure on real estate to provide a green path forward. If we’re to collectively meet our global carbon reduction targets limiting global warming to below 35.6°F (2°C) the real estate industry needs to play its part.

Sustainability isn’t a fleeting fancy for the working world, it’s an all important consideration for the landlords and developers of today if they’re to provide spaces that allow tenants to attract the top talent.

63%

consider working in an environmentally sustainable space to be very important.

Up to

90%

of our time is spent inside buildings.

Improving in-use building performance is critical. Although the industry can do a great deal to improve sustainability by improving building materials and processes during development, operating emissions account for nearly three quarters of the 40% of carbon emissions contributed by buildings. Reducing these in-use emissions can only be achieved by deploying technology to optimize operating regimes.

As the world changes, so do our expectations. We spend as much as 90% of our time inside buildings. These three trends have precipitated a shift in what we expect from the places in which we spend so much of our time – a shift that we cannot ignore.

Introduction

Successful buildings are about people. They are tools that provide for human needs – shelter, security, a focal point for community, or more specialist outcomes such as wonderful acoustics or a sterile
surgical environment.

Previous chapter

Defining a smart building.

Until now, the real estate industry has struggled to agree on how to define a smart building. Whilst most buildings now involve at least one aspect of smart technology, there exists no consensus on what makes a building smart.

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