The commercial real estate industry is at an inflection point. In previous decades we saw intermittent progress of technological advancement. Emerging from the pandemic, we are now witnessing a disruptive shift in demand for buildings using technology to enhance the experience, management, and optimization of space, people, and resources. Where smart technologies were once a nice-to-have or a “wow factor” for modern buildings, today they are critical for addressing three of the most prominent marketplace issues facing property managers and owners: hybrid work environments, healthy buildings, and climate change.
A Real Potential to Impact Climate Change
On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings today is wasted. Pre-pandemic, commercial buildings consumed 13.6 quadrillion BTUs of electricity (35 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S) and generated 826 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (16 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions). While 2020 saw the most significant declines in energy usage since 2012, the long-term outlook projects that commercial buildings will increasingly contribute to global carbon emissions for decades to come. Smart buildings are the only realistic solution to changing that trajectory for the better.
By using a combination of new sensor technology and a building intelligence platform like Cohesion, we can now create building systems that automatically respond to external factors such as wind and temperature plus day-to-day real-time variables like building occupancy. The result is a full system that learns the patterns of its environment and its occupants to intelligently adapt heating and cooling schedules, temperature set points and fan speeds—using energy only when and where it’s necessary.
The Smart Way to Make Hybrid Work Plans Work for Everyone
A recent survey showed that 84% of households that identified as “very concerned about the safety and security of their rental or vacation home” invested in a smart home device during the pandemic. As employers entice workers to return to the office after months of working from home, it’s reasonable to assume those workers will bring back with them raised expectations of safety and convenience to their smart home offices.
One of the behaviors no one missed while working from home was the need to wander their office space, looking for an open conference room for an impromptu meeting. A meeting room was always just a click away. The newest smart building technology allows for that same level of convenience at the office. Workers can see what facilities are available to reserve and book them directly from their mobile device or computer. The most advanced systems, like Cohesion, can also facilitate ordering food for the meeting and even update digital signage on the conference room door.
Smarter Buildings are Healthier Buildings
Whether it means maintaining healthy indoor air quality or reducing the possibility of transmission, workers want to know that the environment they are returning to is as safe as possible. Smart building technology, like Cohesion, makes it possible for them to move from entrance to desk—interacting only with their mobile device. When they arrive at the building, the location awareness in their mobile device triggers a notification, welcoming them to the office. Their digital credentials stored within the app on their phone activates lobby gates or turnstiles, and an elevator is called to the lobby, their home floor the preprogrammed destination. When they reach their office suite, the same mobile app and motorized door provide touchless entry. Simple. Effortless. Touchless.
When they are working at their desk, sensors monitor the air’s quality for contaminants like CO2, TVOCs, and particulate matter. If any of those levels should rise beyond acceptable standards, smart environmental controls take over and bring more fresh air into the space until the issue is resolved.
Smart Building’s Benefits are Here to Stay
Long after the current pandemic ceases to dominate our consciousness, the advantages that smart building technologies provide to our work environments will continue to improve our day-to-day experiences. Buildings that invest in creating the best tenant experiences today will surely have a competitive advantage for years to come. To learn more about how Cohesion makes buildings smart, request a demo.