Is A Connected Real Estate Revolution Upon Us?

By Gordon Feller

Gordon Feller is the Co-Founder of Meeting of the Minds, a global thought leadership network and knowledge-sharing platform focused on the future of sustainable cities, innovation and technology.

Aug 7, 2013 | Smart Cities | 0 comments

Imagine going to work in a high-performance, “smart” building every day. Workers could take advantage of flexible and productive workspaces, wireless and mobile capabilities, and remote, collaborative technology. “Smart” buildings can virtually connect systems and people while measuring, monitoring, and managing resources. With more than $600 billion of new real estate constructed annually in the US and Canada alone, connected real estate offers an opportunity for developers and owners to simultaneously create better work conditions and increase their property value.Integrating this technology into working environments begins with connected real estate, creating a process of designing and renovating buildings to converge all systems onto a streamlined network.

Almost every government and enterprise uses real estate, which is typically the second-largest expense for any corporation. With more than $600 billion of new real estate constructed annually in the US and Canada alone, connected real estate offers an opportunity for developers and owners to simultaneously create better work conditions and increase their property value.

Connected buildings use a single IP network to converge data and systems with centralized operations, management, and efficiencies, enabling owners to extract information from real estate assets. In addition to being more efficient, using less energy, and lowering emissions levels, the converged network approach is less expensive than installing and maintaining separate systems. In turn, the property owner can pass along sustainable benefits to companies and workers in the form of more productive workplaces, lower costs of doing business, and a more responsive landlord/tenant relationship.

Overcoming Hurdles

Offering connected real estate—while worthwhile to both the property owner and company employees—can present logistical hurdles. Property owners, builders, and managers are striving to keep up with an ever-evolving and increasingly technologically focused tenant base. Taking a holistic approach to connected real estate is crucial in order to create lasting workspace benefits. Developers and owners can consolidate, connect, and virtualize the following areas to work toward holistic connected real estate:

  • Increase collaboration and decrease operating costs while reducing the burdens created by travel and commuting (such as pollution, stress, and infrastructure wear and tear) by offering high connectivity, remote technologies, and wireless access.
  • Improve productivity while decreasing energy, water, heating, and cooling requirements by reconfiguring workplaces to increase occupancy and leverage shared resources.
  • Collapsing building management onto the network (including HVAC, lighting, and security).
  • Facilitate scaling and security without significantly increasing the data center’s energy or physical footprint by replacing blade servers with sophisticated storage solutions and by using advanced energy management applications.

Although technology design consultants and implementation engineers are available to support the commercial enterprise, they are often unfamiliar with the construction process, just as the construction team is sometimes unacquainted with the required technologies. Close collaboration and communication between both teams throughout the entire process—along with well-documented experiences available for future use—will prevent projects from being executed in a haphazard, reactive fashion and will ensure sustainability for creating valuable connected real estate projects in the future.

The Future of the Built Environment

Control systems and network technologies are driving the transformation of the built environment. Solutions are now available that allow building owners, managers, and tenants to leverage their IP-enabled networks to converge a vast array of systems, and offer benefits to everyone involved. Intelligent systems work to increase the quality of work and personal life, and truly winning strategies will utilize connected real estate to enable citizens, business leaders, and policymakers to drive job growth, increase economic opportunity, and enrich citizen services.

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