The importance of leveraging building performance data in real time cannot be understated. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

In this blog, James Thomas, Head of Smart Buildings & Technology for SES, shares insights from the round table session he co-chaired with Wates at the Footprint+ conference on, “What is the role of Data and Smart Building Technology in delivering Sustainable Real Estate Solutions.”

I have always been focussed on exploring emerging technologies and finding ways we can improve the experience of our customers and end users by delivering added value through incorporating advanced smart solutions from design to delivery.

Understanding our customer’s requirements is paramount. We are finding that building owners, operators and occupiers are demanding greater visibility and performance of their assets now more than ever. Post pandemic, the desire for highly sustainable working environments has sharply increased and operational energy and carbon reduction is a key priority. The real estate market is increasingly reliant on data and the use of smart building technology on new builds and retrofit projects to provide optimised asset performance and solutions to our customer’s ESG commitments.

 To explore this further we sat down with a group of industry specialists at the Footprint+ conference to share ideas on how we could connect tenants with landlords systems to create a more sustainable customer experience, identify key drivers and discuss approaches for a “SMART” retrofit solution.

We asked participants to consider these factors; how best to utilise space, improve health and wellbeing, increase energy efficiency, maximise occupant experience, leverage data and use FM. We were proud to share with the group how we successfully used smart technology on some of our recent flagship projects including 11&12 Wellington Place.

The importance of data validation was a main talking point. We first need to ensure that the systems and technology that generate building performance data are commissioned and tested correctly and that the data we capture in real time is meaningful. Certification schemes such as NABERS that monitor energy efficiency in operation and live energy performance assessments can help us identify under-performing systems and equipment before the official NABERS rating process is undertaken.

Early engagement from concept design is key. Developers appear to be leaning towards main contractors getting involved earlier to ensure consistency, collaboration and mitigate risk from the outset. Using schemes such as WiredScore and SmartScore to certify a buildings connectivity and smart credentials not only ensures we are upholding construction requirements but also improves quality, customer satisfaction and helps to attract and retain tenants.

The demand for retrofit is growing and becoming more MEP focussed. There are efforts being made to promote a fabric first approach which is promising. We all agreed that the starting point should always be understanding what you have already got and having the evidence to show how it is performing.

It was reaffirming to hear the thoughts of our peers around the growing demand for retrofit in the current climate. The discussion provided us with a valuable insight into the ways we can work together to better capture data and use smart technology to develop sustainable solutions for our customers, our ultimate goal.