Building Technology Trends for a Safer, More Sustainable Environment

The last year has seen many ups and downs as the world tries to get back to normal, from lifting building restrictions to introducing new virus variants. As these challenges arise, new and innovative solutions are created to help people and businesses adapt to the new world, especially in the buildings we live in. These solutions were implemented not only to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, but to positively impact the well-being of occupants. If people continue to occupy buildings in this new environment, here are five building technology trends we may see this year.

Indoor air quality in focus

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the way people view indoor environments. In fact, a recent Honeywell study found that 87% of employees expressed high concerns about working in an office building, and 62% would quit their jobs if employers did not take action to create an interior space that prioritizes employee well-being. As employees return to the office, experts are focusing on indoor air quality (IAQ) and encouraging them to better educate themselves. Building owners, employers and integrators will need more resources to control HVAC systems for better ventilation and filtration to promote healthier conditions and monitor IAQ, occupancy and energy usage. Building upgrades will be integral to maintaining employee satisfaction, as this new technology will not only promote occupant safety, but also sustainability.

AI-driven technologies help achieve sustainable development goals

Sustainability is no longer just a trend, but an important aspect of business survival. Companies must find new ways to perform day-to-day tasks while meeting environmental, social and government (ESG) goals. Part of this shift includes measuring progress towards sustainable development, which is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. Committing to carbon neutrality requires monitoring buildings, vehicles and other aspects that contribute to carbon footprints so companies can begin to minimize them. AI-driven technology can effectively detect energy reductions as well as air quality and pollution levels. Integrating artificial intelligence into buildings for this purpose will soon become the standard. In fact, according to the Capgemini Institute, the use of artificial intelligence is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16% and improve power efficiency by 15% over the next three to five years.

Operational Technology Cybersecurity Resilience Growth

With the rise of remote working, smart devices and cloud storage, and the proliferation of connected systems, buildings are facing more security threats. As IoT cyberattacks continue to escalate, both information technology (IT) systems and the operational technology (OT) of buildings require a robust cyber posture. Threats are becoming more sophisticated, making them harder to defend against. This year, knowing how to prevent an attack—and what to do when one occurs—will be a key skill for building owners and facility managers.

Work environments will require smart building technology

According to a PwC survey, 33% of business executives said they plan to implement a mix of in-person, hybrid and remote work environments; 19% plan to work in person; 18% are fully hybrid; and another 18% plan to Mix face-to-face and hybrid environments. Working conditions and environments will have to adapt as businesses look for the best solutions. Flexibility is becoming increasingly important for workers. Whether personal spaces, collaborative meeting spaces or quiet areas, building managers and employers are adapting offices to create modern hybrid workspaces. Smart building technologies used to control systems such as HVAC, lighting and energy usage can make the working environment in buildings more efficient and comfortable.

Higher quality and quantity of smart buildings

In 2021, the U.S. Congress and President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bill allocates $550 billion to upgrade roads, bridges and public transportation. It also funds infrastructure sustainability and clean energy projects. This will help create opportunities for smarter, more sustainable cities and help communities build energy equity and resilience.

As new demands emerge in everyday working life, businesses must continue to use technologies such as artificial intelligence, security systems or IAQ solutions to improve their buildings. These technologies will not only provide a healthier and safer environment, but also a more sustainable future.

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