We live in the era of smart phones, smart watches, smart cars and smart homes. But are we ready for super smart office buildings? An article by By Stefania Baldovinescu, Senior Partner, Real Estate Management Services at Colliers International Romania.
There is a building for which private information such as the location of your house, the brand of your car, the people you meet or the way you like your coffee are not that private anymore. However, you can rest assured that these conveniences do not serve a Big Brother purpose, but only the individual: you are instantly notified about your schedule; there is a parking space and a desk secured only for you at the time of your arrival; environmental factors such as light and temperature are adjusted according to your own preferences. And all of this is possible with a single app to which you are constantly connected.
It may sound futuristic, but the building actually exists. It is located in Amsterdam and it is called The Edge. It serves as the headquarters of Deloitte. It was delivered in September 2014 and it is one of the smartest and greenest office buildings in the world.
Judging by the high level of technology that is well integrated into the building space, it is not far-fetched to assume that The Edge is a true embodiment of the future of real estate developments. This building proves that information technology influences how we work and where we work, ensuring resource efficiency in both a traditional way, through the use of solar panels that produce more energy than the building uses, and a technological way, with the help of 28,000 motion, light, infrared, temperature, humidity and other sensors.
The success of the building relies on these features, as well as on their management. The influx of data about the building performance is handled by central dashboards. Major details, such as energy use, and smaller details, such as restoring various amenities, fall within the tasks of these dashboards. An example of efficient management is the shutting down of parts of the building where employees are not expected to show up, thus lowering the costs for cleaning or energy services.
Another green and smart office project is Apple Park, the 71 hectares campus that will host Apple’s headquarters, starting with April 2017. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, said that Steve Jobs "intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come". It is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world and it will run entirely on renewable energy. Except for office spaces and R&D facilities, the campus will include: a park, running and walking paths, a fitness center, an orchard, meadow and a pond, a public cafe, a visitors center and a 1,000 seats auditorium.
The office market in Romania is relatively new, having a short but successful history of less than 20 years, and it might seem difficult to talk about Romania in the context of smart buildings, Yet, the reality within our country succeeds to catch up with the trends set abroad. Currently, the technical and environmental features of office buildings have reached a high level of technological development. As far as the technical features are concerned, the majority of the buildings are already equipped with heat pumps, radiant ceilings, gray water systems, charging stations for electric cars, car plate recognition systems and bike parking spaces. Moreover, buildings offer improved environmental features that range from interactive areas, community spaces, squares between buildings and Wi-Fi in campuses to running paths and common areas sensors. The future is even brighter considering the fact that more and more ongoing projects include innovative technologies, such as: virtual reception with check-in and access control for visitors, dashboards at the lobby lift areas showing consumption per tenant/floor and building dedicated Smart Phone Application, in-building restaurant, car & bike sharing and other partnerships.
I am personally looking forward to welcoming a building like The Edge in the Romanian market. I think the future of real estate development will blend real green attributes with smart IT features and hot desking spaces with interactive, welcoming, hotel type common areas. But until then, I leave you with a question: are you ready for buildings that are so technologically advanced which know everything you do or do you consider it is too much for privacy and personal intimacy?
Stefania has been with Colliers International for almost 12 years. She is in charge of Real Estate Management Services, including Property Management, Green Certifications, Project Monitoring and Technical Due Diligence. Stefania set the grounds of the department and then developed the business, working with clients such as: Allianz Tiriac, General Electric Capital Real Estate, GTC, WTC Bucharest, ING Lease, Skanska, Atenor, NBGI etc. As part of the Property Management Services, Colliers International emphasis the advantages of Green Certification and promotes these services in Romania.