Hong Kong targets net-zero emissions by 2050, and Singapore aims to green at least 80 per cent of its buildings by 2030. Achieving these goals demands clear, focused action. It’s not a case of inventing new technologies, but of swiftly adopting already available solutions in buildings and workspaces that exist today. As a business owner, building operator or workplace manager, this is what you can do.
Buildings represent 37 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. With rising energy prices, it’s clear that reducing energy usage through greater efficiency is an economic imperative for businesses across sectors. The good news is that technologies to dramatically reduce energy consumption in office buildings already exist, and offer significant value and investment returns when embedded in office and workspace design. We’re looking at the achievable ways an office building can improve sustainability and energy efficiency, while meeting the differing requirements its users.
Rethinking Office Buildings is a Climate Imperative
70% building sector emissions come from electricity use remainder from direct fuel use for space heating and water heating
2/3 of building stock in 2040 will be buildings that already exist today Achieving zero emissions from the existing stock requires immediate intervention
Efficient lighting, space heating, cooling, and ventilation are a priority for office space owners looking to increase their building’s energy rating and reduce operational costs, more so considering rising global energy prices.
Active Energy Management via Digital Tools and IoT
The World Economic Forum identified decarbonisation and digitisation as obvious actions for building mangers to reduce carbon emissions. While decarbonisation aims to avoid the use of fossil fuels, with digitisation, workspaces can boost energy efficiency via sensors and automation systems that ensure heating, cooling and lighting are only active when and where needed. Research indicates that active resource management via digital AI tools like Gaia can be highly cost-effective over time.
Gaia works by leveraging an organisation’s existing infrastructure, such as CCTV cameras at entry/exit points, digital door lock data, sensors and more, and complements this when necessary, with additional sensors to build a clearer understanding of occupancy, space and resource usage. Granular insights on a cloud-based platform help building managers quickly identify and capture any opportunities for energy optimisation. The best results are achieved when all the data — from individual sensors to office wide systems — are consistently collated and analysed for efficiency insights.
Real-Time Insights for Employees and Office Managers Touchpoints
The mobile app — the ubiquity of mobile phones means that incorporating their use via office-wide apps has immediate benefits — every employee and staff member is connected to the building via an app on their smartphone. Deploying mobile phones also necessitates much smaller outlays on fixed infrastructure.
AI-enabled workplace platforms make it possible for office managers and companies to deliver high levels of personalised service, and operational efficiency at scale — everything from booking desks and meeting rooms to locating parking spaces, environmental navigation, user-oriented cultural programming and marketing, personalised temperature and lighting levels, cafeteria menu inputs, maintenance issue reporting. Connected offices yield impressive results. The Edge, a 40,000 m² a Smart Office building in Amsterdam’s business district, generates an annual reduction of €100,000 in energy costs via integrated measures for occupancy, movement, lighting levels, humidity and temperature.
What Connected Workspaces of the Future Look Like
– Remote anonymous insights on space usage
– Optimise heating, cooling, fresh air and lighting to align with actual occupancy
– Auto-adaptive cleaning schedules based on usage
– Maintenance alerts to property managers via staff app
– Office cafeteria occupancy predictions based weekly/seasonal traffic and weather data to avoid food-waste
– Integrated air quality sensors to improve indoor air quality, and health outcomes
– Dashboards with real-time insights to track when metrics fall outside optimal levels and trigger staff action
Designing Smart, Zero Carbon Workspaces
Green, thoughtful, human-centric buildings are not utopian dreams for the future. They exist today — from Hong Kong’s Children’s Hospital, Asia Square in Singapore, to Japan’s Tokyo Square Garden. To address the challenges of climate change, soaring energy prices, and human wellbeing, connected buildings can no longer be the exception. Companies and office buildings that pursue both decarbonisation and digitisation have the greatest opportunity for success. Environmentally friendly workspaces lower energy bills, improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality, with the benefit of better health and increased productivity for employees.
Over 75% of millennials and Generation Zs agree the world is at tipping point and will choose companies and employers who address urgent social and environmental issues. Making greener workspaces demonstrates that you are committed to environmental sustainability. An inspiring, green environment attracts talent and leads to higher employee satisfaction. There is significant evidence that thoughtfully designed, connected environments result in lower energy and maintenance costs, fewer health related absences and higher productivity, improving financial performance and quality of life. It’s not a case of inventing new technologies, but of swiftly adopting already available solutions in buildings and workspaces that exist today. Now is a good time to start.