“Our hunger for innovation is not quite on a par with the accompanying need to prove the value of the innovations we apply.”
It is often difficult to demonstrate an immediate return on investment for innovation. And many fear making a costly mistake.
Some important principles apply:
“I, the landlord, will always invest in something that differentiates my building and gives me a better return.”
“You can design and build a building really well but it can be let down if the operator doesn’t know how to use it to the fullest.”
The use of technology to manage facilities is a key enabler of improved maintenance efficiency through real-time monitoring from remote locations. In the near future, apps will be used to monitor and analyse data and will aid the more effective management of services such as air conditioning and water management.
Critically, we are going to have to upskill facilities managers to take full advantage of the innovations in Buildings of the Future. Put plainly: there is no point in developing fancy technology if no one can or wants to use it.
“The big issue is solving the CAPEX problem. Good initiatives get culled during the schematic design and design development stages. For Buildings of the Future, fundamental, idealistic financial models are necessary to convey the message.”
Efficiencies in operations, building practices and response to climate change are at the heart of innovation in the building of the future. To solve the investment conundrum, we will need to focus on improving the tools we use to calculate the cost-value equation. We’ll need to develop better metrics to support the business case for Buildings of the Future, and take advantage of government incentives to foster innovation in this field.
Aurecon sees this as a key opportunity for the built environment to institute more specific measurement standards. These standards would carefully analyse the returns on investment from Buildings of the Future, including their achievement of occupant wellness, connection to local community, energy being delivered to the right place at the right time, as well as the integration of appropriate technology and new materials. Establishing these standards will require an ahistorical level of collaboration between innovative executives, HR and buildings professionals.
If the future is created by those who forge it, we need to evaluate where it is we want to be, and find more definite ways of measuring our progress.
We realise we have raised more questions than answers throughout this document.
It may be counterintuitive, but we believe that therein lies the pathway forward.
Those who shape Buildings of the Future will be those who, firstly, realise that our world is changing and have the boldness to not only let go of but question the status quo so that working with government and economic leaders, we might reimagine our physical spaces and infrastructure. Engineers need to lead these conversations.
With science fiction becoming science fact, it’s time to embrace radical change.