The digital capabilities of buildings are increasing and, as they do so, are pushing landlords and tenants not only toward greater efficiency in the way space is occupied but, importantly, stepping up the environmental performance of the workplace. The idea of ‘smart buildings’ has been around for a while but to date this has focused primarily on regulating energy consumption. This now extends to factors that impact on occupiers, such as indoor air quality.
As digital tech makes it possible to increase the densities of workplace use this has some challenging consequences. One recent study of an open-plan workplace used by 15 people found that by 2pm each day, the CO2 level was over 1,000 parts per million – more than double the natural level in the atmosphere. No wonder people can feel sleepy after lunch!
For buildings to work smarter, monitoring becomes pivotal and the good news is that, as the cost of sensor technology drops, other applications for workplace environmental control become possible. Recent developments in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) enables huge volumes of data to be collected from buildings.
For properties that are not yet ‘smart’, fitting digital sensors will increasingly become a priority as cyber-physical integration enables improved control and management of resources. At present, only a few occupiers have the resources to extract valuable business insights from the resultant Big Data. Co-operation between landlords and occupiers will therefore be essential, with occupiers exerting increasing pressure for this to be delivered.
As part of developing a new approach to building management, Colliers has recently launched a smart data analytics pilot at one of the major commercial assets we manage. More than 1,000 data points are being monitored and the aim is to identify opportunities to improve building efficiency and occupier comfort.
The pilot building is a mixed-use block on London’s Regent Street, so it will give a cross-section of insights across the different uses to which space is put. Significant cost savings are expected to be realised (the target is cost neutrality in only months) whilst continuing to improve occupier satisfaction and engagement.
This new data-driven approach to building and facilities management looks set to deliver real financial benefits for landlords and occupiers whilst also giving people a more pleasant environment in which to live, work and play.