Many businesses have committed to net zero and sustainability targets that could have a significant, positive impact on climate change. The world’s largest asset managers have joined a group of investors committing to hit net zero.

Dan Drogman

Dan Drogman

The UK government is expanding its campaign to persuade British businesses to commit to the country’s net-zero-by-2050 target. But is that enough?

Historically, it has not been easy to make meaningful changes at pace and many have been vocal about how difficult it is to reach these targets due to the time it takes and the investment required. That is why there must be more of a concerted effort to implement smart building technology.

Most buildings can be reimagined to adopt cutting-edge green technology, which not only supports reaching net zero targets but generates significant returns.

Without technology, it becomes a laboursome task to track and measure energy consumption. However, with green technology – those tools designed to preserve natural resources, reduce resource consumption and mitigate the negative impacts of human activity – this becomes more manageable and achievable.

The use of IoT, AI, digital twins and cloud technology can help collect, integrate and analyse data from an array of real-time sources. This can, for example, highlight energy usage or water consumption or measure air quality, helping to reduce climate impacts while also reducing building-operation and energy costs.

Furthermore, research such as JLL’s paper on the ‘impact of sustainability on value’ has shown buildings with A- or B-rated EPCs can command a rental premium of 10%.

There must be more of a concerted effort to implement smart building technology

This marriage of cost savings and real results should make smart technology adoption a given.

While energy efficiency is a chief target for many businesses looking to create efficiencies and cost savings, it is often the focus of sustainability strategies as it directly contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. However, water consumption and indoor air quality (IAQ) can also be improved.

IAQ is a vital measure of occupational safety and health, able to detect common pollutants such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. Meanwhile, IoT sensors can monitor noise, movement, temperature, humidity and motion.

By owning the data around these aspects and understanding it, building managers can measure and evaluate energy performance and consumption. For example, Smart Spaces, an integrated smart building operating system, can help reduce building energy consumption by up to 40% by efficiently controlling the HVAC system and IAQ.

Without the right technology to generate the necessary data, combating energy efficiency issues becomes an expensive and lengthy ‘finger-in-the-air’ process.

In order to tap into this type of technology, landlords must invest in a building management system, which is used to access and aggregate data from different systems in a building.

With the current climate crisis, you could argue that building management systems should be a mandatory requirement for new-builds, and an industry standard to reach for any other building. With the launch of certifications such as Smart Score, we are moving closer to recognising the importance of smart building technology, but as the race to net zero heats up, businesses should act now before it’s too late.

Dan Drogman is chief executive of Smart Spaces