Developers are harnessing a growing obsession with data to improve office buildings in ways that could cut costs and streamline operations, saving owners millions of dollars annually.
The field, known as property technology, or proptech, has become a booming sector in commercial real estate as property managers seek to use data collection and artificial intelligence to help control systems like heating, lighting, air quality and even the flow of workers.
As building owners juggle the complications of workers safely returning to offices after the pandemic, investors are pouring money into proptech start-ups like Cherre and HqO.
But this data collection is raising cybersecurity concerns: A 2021 Deloitte report found “cyberthreats are increasing in sophistication.” Thieves have become more adept at hacking, even using the thermometer in a fish tank to gain access to the network of a Las Vegas casino.
oversupplied office market means there is even more pressure to better understand and improve commercial real estate.
“There will be a dramatic increase in the information we have about how people use our buildings, and sensors will be more common,” said Charlie Kuntz, innovation officer at Hines, a large real estate investment firm.
In Houston, for example, the planned office tower known as 1550 on the Green aims to be a state-of-the-art addition to the downtown area; it is expected to open in 2024. Skanska, a Swedish developer, hired the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to design the 28-story tower, which will feature an array of environmental controls and smart building features.
Enertiv and Loft. He sees a coming “digitization of the office asset.”
“Employees want a more high-tech, high-touch, technological experience,” he said. “There will be orders of magnitude more investment this year, and with offices empty, it’s the perfect time to retrofit.”