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REALX.Global: Proptech is the key to healthy buildings

Francesca Brady, CEO, AirRated

The pandemic has brought health to the fore and technology is the great enabler of healthy solutions for buildings, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Proptech Briefing, which took place online last week on the REALX.Global platform.

“Now is the time to act to improve offices, before people go back to the workplace,” said Francesca Brady, CEO, AirRated. “Before Covid, healthy offices were nice to have, but now everyone’s awareness has been heightened and everyone is clued-up and better informed and demanding change from property owners.”

Measures like introducing insulation and energy efficiency or improving air circulation and air quality will give employees more confidence and “more faith in indoor spaces”, she said, encouraging them to return to the office.

It is widely recognised that a healthy environment and clean air have a positive impact on employees’ cognitive functions, so it gives the companies they work for a competitive advantage.

“Having a technology that delivers a better experience for both tenants and customers is a competitive advantage for a landlord,” said Michelle Buxton, managing director, Toolbox Group. “But many landlords don’t have a tech strategy, they have a strategy and want to add tech on top and that just doesn’t work.”

An integrated platform is needed

What works is having an integrated platform that includes all aspects of a building and of a business, from tenant engagement to workflow management, security and sustainability.

“Occupiers will drive that demand for healthy productive spaces and demand improvements, and legislation will follow,” Brady said.

The regulations bar is set pretty low at the moment, in line with minimum health & safety standards, but progress is being made.

“You are really unproductive with the levels of air quality that are allowed at the moment, because ‘safe’ and ‘healthy and productive’ are very different things,” said Brady. “But new building regulations will have to include higher indoor air quality standards. We must move on to the next stage.”

The next step is benchmarking and standardisation, in order to be able to measure and compare like for like, give clear guidance and reference points and assess ESG compliance objectively.

“There’s a huge opportunity to focus on sustainability and use technology to prepare our clients to meet regulations,” said Lukas Balik, co-founder and CEO, Spaceflow. “We know that more legislation will follow and demands will grow, so it’s better to be prepared.”

Click below to see full panel discussion: