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Real Estate

How can technology help achieve energy efficiency?

March 16, 2022

Energy consumption and energy efficiency

It is no longer news that the covid-19 pandemic has changed the world as we knew it, causing a crisis in all aspects of lives and businesses on a global level and having a lasting impact in all sectors of the economy, health systems and society.

Recovery has been, since then, one of society's major concerns and, along with the ongoing search for ways to mitigate the consequences of climate change, these two threats have encountered one common denominator. Energy Efficiency initiatives are unquestionably one of the key solutions to economic recovery and the benefits are far beyond energy savings.

Collected data from the beginning of the pandemic shows countries that went through a full lockdown had an average of 25% drop in energy demand per week. Meanwhile, the global Energy Review (2020) showed a demand decline of 2.5% in global electricity, 2% in gas and 9% in oil. Ultimately, the pandemic has revealed that economic recovery begins with efficiency.

While the real estate market contributes to approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, there are many initiatives, governmental and private, that can be implemented, with the help of technology, to lower these levels. 

New technologies can contribute to making energy consumption more efficient and the benefits are countless, from lowering energy demand, to raising asset value, from reducing air pollution, to increasing employment.

How proptechs are changing real estate

On the forefront of these transformations are: R8 Tech and Brainbox AI. They are both PropTech companies who use artificial intelligence to help reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings.

During a recent interview with the GRI Club to talk about a case study for the Ülemiste Centre, a 125.000 m² building in Estonia, and how technology can assist the real estate market by changing its impact on the environment, R8 Tech’s board member, Imre-Gustav Vellamaa, explained how the system works by doing a “microtuning” of all levels of HVAC components in order to achieve energy efficiency.

In the case study, after implementing the Autopilot, with successful and continuous adjustments to balance energy consumption and thermal comfort, the building was able to save 17.9% on total energy costs in 14 months of running with R8 Digital Operator and reduced CO2 by 700 tons.

To be able to achieve such success in this operation, Vellamaa explained “the R8 Digital operator collects and analyses as much data as possible from the building and outside the building”, like weather forecasts, but also, “from occupants inside the building” to provide a more detailed diagnosis and proper adjustment in levels so it will reach the expected results.
Europe GRI 2022

The role of technology in making real estate a cleaner market

Sam Ramadori, CEO of BrainBox AI, has recently talked to the GRI Club about the role of technology in transforming the real estate industry into a cleaner market and stated:  “we definitely see technology as being able to change the game in terms of making an impact quickly and at lower capital levels that many of the other things we need to tackle.”

Commenting on the ‘E’ part of ESG, Ramadori explains the challenges that come with the sector as changes need to be affordable and scalable to make a positive impact. “While buildings are being retrofitted at the pace they can, technology can be the element that brings a faster step change in reducing GHG emissions out of buildings.”

Head of Sustainability at LaSalle Investment Management and technology expert, Alex Edds, gave his point of view on the role of technology in transforming real estate. He believes it all connects to the way “we as people will want to interact with the built environment, where we live, where we work, where we play”, and that will dictate what buildings should be like. 

According to Edds, “the challenges of a changing climate and therefore adaptation becomes crucial in terms of the way that we design and build buildings and cities.”  The sector is becoming more product oriented as people are more aware of needs and what amenities they value the most and the pandemic contributed enormously to make these necessities crystal clear. For instance, to work and live in the same building as to not have to use a car, or to have a backyard, or a pool, more rooms in the house, etc. 

In Edds words, “There's a journey of discovery that the real estate and built environment industry needs to go on”. Customer experience trends like this will become more relevant when investing on a new project development from now on, but for that to happen all the parties involved have to “play together in order to create the kind of outcome that we need”, Edds concludes. 

Check the full interview with Alex Edds:

Written by Roberta Gomes
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