Our hunger for innovation is not quite on 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:
Taking a long-term view of investment is key: with a client who takes a longer-term view, you seem to be more able to incorporate Intelligent Building concepts, compared with someone who is here for the short-term.
Returns on investment aren’t always financial: proving returns could be in the form of cost or energy savings, or successfully supporting corporate strategy (such as environmental responsibility or collaboration).
Proving value starts at the design phase: the first step in proving the value of an innovation should start at the design stage. This involves working hand in hand with a client to identify which innovations will provide real value and instilling a shared understanding of the vision. For example, space optimisation doesn’t only involve asking “how small can we make the space?” Rather, it involves understanding a client’s future space requirements and the need for flexible design which will minimise long-term operational costs.
Digital strides forward in data analytics
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.
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.
Where are we heading?
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.
What should we be asking?
Innovation works if legislation facilitates it. LEED, BREAM or Green Star are only effective if it is a mandatory requirement. Will the standards evolve to allow for new technologies?
Where will 3D printing fit in?
Will the key drivers for this be economic, environmental or experimental?
What will be the big changes in our surroundings that will change the cost structure of buildings?