Buildings of the future: the challenges of embracing smart technologies
While investment in smart technology is increasingly becoming the key to staying competitive in the real estate market, adopting these technologies introduces challenges for property developers.
Smart buildings are at the cutting edge of innovation in the property development sector, as they incorporate technologies that control and improve a building’s systems.
Investment in smart technologies not only increases the efficiency and value of a building, but the health and enjoyment of the people who occupy it.
As smart buildings become increasingly intelligent, there are several challenges and issues that property developers need to be mindful of.
A building’s success is linked with its ability to compete in the real estate market. This is especially true for high-rise developments. Given changing consumer habits, increasing competition and the demand for healthy, cost-effective buildings, it is becoming clear to developers and the real estate industry at large that the future of competitive buildings is smart. According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart building market is expected to grow from USD 60.7 billion in 2019, to USD 105.8 billion by 2024.
What are smart buildings?
‘Smart buildings’ invest in technologies, such as sensor networks and automation software, that gather, manage and act on data to enhance building performance. The goal of this is promoting comfort, productivity, health and sustainability. Successful smart buildings should not only increase the value of the building as an asset, but the health and enjoyment of the people who occupy it.
Smart buildings use technologies such as the ‘Internet of things’ (IoT), IoT is a smart technology that connects devices, such as sensors, lighting and security, to the internet using embedded software and sensors to communicate with one another. By communicating with one another devices can help monitor themselves and act when necessary.
Examples of this technology include:
water supply systems that can detect leaks, monitor quality and automate heating and cooling;
air-conditioning and heating systems that can turn on and off based on the occupancy of a room;
sensors that can check for room occupancy and match patterns to energy use throughout the day;
multiple internal systems like lighting, air-conditioning, water and ventilation can be connected to see how they affect each other throughout the day and optimise for efficiency; and
data collection which maintains optimal comfort settings for residents in the building, while also reducing waste.
The smart building landscape
Completed in 2015, The Edge in Amsterdam, Netherlands has been referred to as ‘the most intelligent and sustainable building in the world’. The building, which houses law firm AKD and Deloitte, boasts an impressive range of smart technologies including IoT-based and building management systems. These technologies not only reduce its carbon footprint, but also enhance the user experience. Supporting this technology is a mobile app developed to connect employees to the building. This app enables users to:
assign daily workspaces that best fit their preferences;
adjust the climate and lighting of their work areas;
get directions to meeting locations, by accessing the details from their online calendar; and
be directed to a parking spot by recognising their car upon arrival.
Another example can be found closer to home. Scheduled for completion in 2022, Sydney’s Quay Quarter Tower (QQT) is already being heralded as one of the city’s greenest and most innovative office buildings. The development ‘upcycles’ an existing skyscraper from the 1970’s into stacked ‘vertical villages’ positioned around a central atrium. This is designed to maximise light and foster interaction among the building’s occupants. The QQT will incorporate digital technologies, including enterprise-grade wireless and embedded smart systems, creating an experience-rich environment for users.