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Data have the answers and proptech has the solutions

Proptech has the answers to landlords’ and tenants’ questions, but data are the starting point, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Proptech, Data & Innovation Summit, which was held online last week.

“You can only make the necessary changes if you have the data to evaluate them and act on them,” said Caleb Dunn, commercial analyst, Re-leased. “Covid-19’s broken down barriers and people now are more understanding of the big role that data are playing because it’s on the news every day.”

The next step is standardising data across regions and across platforms so that it’s possible to compare like for like and make informed decisions.

“People want to compare their building and its performance to others,” said Dunn. “There’s an increased appetite for benchmarking.”

Despite the great strides made this year, attitudes to technological innovation still vary: some companies see as an investment, some see it as an insurance policy, others as a cost they try to avoid.

“It’s a challenge for everyone,” said Stefan Plesser, owner and managing director, Synavision. “Some companies see it as an opportunity to take action and improve things, many are worried about the costs. Some go for platinum or gold, invest a lot in green technologies but it doesn’t convert into real performance.”

The technology to become carbon-neutral is already available, but putting it together and making it work effectively is the challenge. It is another instance of how crucial the operational side is becoming.

Green buildings must be operated, not just built

“A building’s design could be award-winning, but then the performance is much lower than expected,” said Andy Saull, research associate, Pi Labs. “You need to plug into how a building is actually working. You can’t just build a green building, you need to operate a green building.”

The challenge for proptech companies is offering fully integrated solutions.

“Customers can get lost in the hundreds of offers out there and the multitude of technologies,” said Plesser. “They must find what works for them.”

Digital twins can be very useful to create efficiencies. They can be used for retrofitting an existing building as well as for new construction to ensure the building is as close to optimal as possible.

“We use them to define the specific functional requirements of a building and make sure everything works properly,” said Plesser. “They didn’t exist five years ago, now demand is exploding. It’s all part of good quality management, as they have been doing on airplanes for years.”

Simple technologies can improve the energy efficiency of a building, drive performance and reduce emissions. For example, sensors that control every room can switch off heating or air conditioning when that room is not being used.

Landlords and tenants need to be on board

“Both landlords and tenants must be on board because they both play an active role in implementing tech solutions,” said Lukas Balik, co-founder and CEO, Spaceflow. Landlords must be proactive, knowing how the space is being used and monitoring energy consumption, while tenants must monitor their employees and use the space efficiently.

There are signs that people are prepared to go back to offices if they feel they are safe.

“We  monitor office occupancy on a daily basis and recently we’ve seen a shift to people wanting to go back to the workplace, especially in London,” said Michael Grant, COO, Metrikus. “Some of our customers are talking about changing the way they use the office, removing desks and turning it into collaboration space.”