Climate change, waste disposal, and pollution are becoming increasingly important and widely talked about with campaigns and documentaries being created to further raise awareness of the environmental implications of our actions. Many brands are reducing plastic products with the goal of eliminating ‘virgin plastic’ altogether. There are campaigns to remove plastic bottles by an array of brands and we’ve seen supermarkets introduce a charge for plastic bags to encourage consumers to recycle and ultimately, make people be accountable for their actions. All these efforts are important; however, the real estate market needs to think bigger and the future of the built environment.
The planet is becoming increasingly unpredictable and as temperatures heat up, with record levels being reached, buildings must adapt to ensure they are built and maintained sustainably and resiliently. Studies have shown that approximately 40% of all the energy consumed by buildings worldwide is with regards to heating or cooling space. This statistic isn’t surprising, not only due to the freak weather changes but given the most common complaint in offices is in relation to the temperature.
Reducing the carbon footprint is, and will only continue growing, as an important aspect of buildings as global warming is taken increasingly more seriously. Buildings will become much more environmentally friendly and adaptations will have to be made utilising and monitoring renewable energy solutions, water usage, recycled content, lighting, heating, ventilation and insulation to name a few.
It’s not just the heat that is causing concern and challenges. There can be significant negative impacts from severe winter weather causing erosion and flooding, harshly damaging properties if they aren’t prepared or maintained. These extreme conditions can cause significant financial costs, particularly for listed or older properties which haven’t been altered to benefit from the new sustainability opportunities.
New buildings will have to be designed to incorporate measures which will protect against extreme weather changes, and existing buildings will need adapting over the next 50 years. This will have a significant impact on the facilities management sector as the FM’s will be responsible for overseeing a lot of these changes.
The smart building concept is one that is emerging and still being refined but is utilising the latest innovative developments to become much more energy efficient and reduce waste. Some examples include:
As the climate of the world is changing, buildings are having to, or will have to, adapt to the changing conditions. There are many more opportunities available than listed above and more being developed to reduce the real estate market’s environmental impact. It’s great to see so many organisations already responding to climate change and successfully adapting to the changing world.