Be green, think smart

Tomáš Jurdák, Head of Real Estate at MiddleCap, argues that the most efficient way to deliver greater sustainability that benefits wider society is via the use of smart buildings.  

As part of its drive to ‘level up’ the UK, the government has made much of its ‘build back better’ campaign. So too its green credentials, with the chancellor outlining in his recent Budget a bold net-zero innovation fund to kick-start low-carbon technologies.

Building better, and doing so in as green a way possible, makes business and environmental sense. Let’s not forget the uncomfortable statistic that construction activity is responsible for around 40 per cent of all carbon emissions.

We support the government’s ambitions, but we would argue there is already a way to build better, deliver greater sustainability and benefit wider society in general: smart buildings.

Thanks to innovative built-in technologies such as intelligent sensors and other data gathering systems, it is possible for buildings to monitor, analyse, and assess how they are being used, from lighting, to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, so they operate as efficiently as possible. They can virtually ‘think’ for themselves.

Where once it might have pumped out heat and light all day – and sometimes all night – regardless if it was occupied or completely empty, now a building can respond effectively via sensor technology.

And whereas previously energy-saving equipment would be installed after completion, today an office development can be designed and delivered with these end goals already firmly in mind.

Technological advances mean a building’s systems can communicate with each other as never before. On the back of this, occupiers can also use an app to ‘talk’ to the building, telling it who needs what – heating, lighting, ventilation – and where.

For their part, owners get a building that is going to be fit for purpose for a considerable length of time, making it an attractive proposition to potential occupiers for longer.

And since the building makes less of an environmental impact on the wider world, it’s good for everyone else.

At MiddleCap we understand smart buildings. Our newly developed office development in Southwark, Southworks, recently gained a Platinum Smart Building Certification, the first to do so in the UK.

The building’s unique digital backbone which connect sensors, measures and gives feedback to occupiers about heating and ventilation systems, and are controlled via the building’s dedicated app. They will also monitor environmental conditions such as density, occupancy and noise levels, with all of this data being fed into the building management system to ensure it is completely demand driven.

As the UK gears up to host the COP26 environmental conference, there has never been a better time to press the case for smart buildings. Southworks responds to the people using it. It reacts to their needs. It saves energy and plays its part in lowering the impact of the built environment on the wider world. It’s smart.

The urgency to deliver better built, smarter buildings is only going to increase. The construction industry needs to understand that such buildings and the technologies they feature will play an essential part in occupiers’ wellbeing and backing our efforts to protect the environment.