With Cop 26 underway, all eyes will be turned to global leaders and the UN to see what goals and targets have been promised to fight climate change. Industries will be taking on board new initiatives and developing strategies to cut carbon emissions with an aim of achieving global net zero by the middle of the century. Some nations are being even more ambitious; President Biden set an aggressive target for the US to half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The combination of policy measures and incentives creates a necessity for building managers and landlords to become more energy efficient in order to remain appealing and competitive.
Commercial Real Estate (CRE) falls under the frameworks for Sustainable Urban Development. Examples of international agreements include:
Within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, goal 11 states: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. This is an example of a goal targeted at CRE and the built environment to become increasingly environmentally friendly, through techniques such as green building during construction, or adaptation to “smart buildings” within the urban realm.
All these agreements require an integrated multi-level approach; collaboration between governmental bodies and multiple stakeholders with sometimes conflicting objectives. If targets are pushed to the back of the priority list for different stakeholders, this will result in a collective slow-down towards reaching the targets.
Evidentially financial incentives are the driving forces for investment for greener smarter CRE. All of these incentives revolve around increasing competitive advantage through brand value proposition, creating a desired sustainable image to attract new customers and tenants, and in turn achieve higher revenue. Today corporate tenants can be seen to be much more involved in the protection of the environment and fighting climate change than in the past.
Is it now time for direct financial incentives in order to help meet imminent targets?
Subsidies or grants for corporations may encourage green building or retrofitting of existing buildings to become ‘smart building’s’ through innovative Proptech solutions.
Proptech start-ups are driving the smart building revolution for the commercial real estate sector. The pandemic has fast-tracked this change, and many office buildings are looking to become relevant again following their government sponsored abandonment, which sparked a work from home rebellion.
With that fad behind us, we’ve picked some of our favourite startups that are revolutionising the workplace, from retrofitting efficiency to supercharging building data visualization for CRE.
A strong example of a start-up helping to provide a sustainable opportunity for CRE. OpenEnergi provides a singular cloud based platform that is able to pull real time data from every part of the built environment. This allows for management of building compliance, conditions and energy sources. From the ability to track, comes the ability to analyse. An interactive dashboard visualisation reveals a buildings usage, creating an opportunity for building managers to save on energy costs, in turn reducing the carbon footprint through strategic decisions made easy through their software.
One of the CRE Industry favourites and leader in the adaptation to smart buildings, Measurabl is a tracking platform that stands out for it’s simple yet effective visualisation of a buildings ESG Data. One unique feature is the ability to disclose reports to follow international and national frameworks such as CDP and GRESB. This coupled with strategic outlines to improve operational efficiencies linked to ESG ensures up-to-date green building certification.
Building data technology is used within tenant engagement apps, HqO is making green strides not only for building managers to understand how energy is being used in the building, but also by tenants. Each employee/tenant in a building can reduce their carbon footprint by receiving in-app guidance that utilises the building’s data to cut emissions by up to 20% across landlords portfolios.
“Buildings used to be seen as standalone units, but we need to start seeing them as part of a more important network and landscape. In order to create this wider awareness, a freer flow of information exchange needs to be enabled, and the HqO tenant platform can be made to power this.” Thierry Laquitaine, AEW Director of Socially Responsible Investment.
Doordeck works to assist tenant engagement apps such as HqO. Providing access control integration with the app, we allow for contactless NFC entry, tracking and gathering of building data. Doordeck also integrates with smart systems to allow for universal control of conditions and compliances within a building.
In addition to supercharging Tenant Engagement Apps and smart systems. Doordeck uses NFC; “NFC products encourage re-usability and the reduction of waste, with the idea being a product that’s digital is less disposable, and is more likely to be continually used as opposed to repeatedly wasting or chucking out printed products when they’re no longer relevant”. Utilising NFC alignes with Doordeck’s goal to reduce the amount of plastic key cards and door access fobs being issued in the UK, Europe and US by 20% over the next 5 years. Furthermore, NFC is fast, reliable and incorruptible and literally works every time, so why wouldn't we use it. Doordeck is a tech enabler converting the 90% of office workers still using key cards and fobs to use their smartphones and reduce plastic waste. Doordeck provides smart elevator, gate, barrier or door entry through fast integration to a building's existing access control hardware . Without the need of replacing access control systems, a simple upgrade through integration means there is no waste as well as prolonging the life for a further 10+ years , making an old access control system ‘smart’.
It will take a lot to achieve global climate goals however with the cooperation of landlords, building managers and tenants, the smart building revolution will continue to gather pace with proptech solutions driving commercial real estate’s attempts to reach net zero.