According to Eurostat, the EU’s Luxembourg-based agency for official statistics, the residential and building services sector within the continent accounts for almost 40% of the EU-28 final energy consumption. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires member states to ensure that all buildings erected after 2020 are nearly zero- energy infrastructure. Such compliance has already been mandatory for new buildings occupied or owned by public authorities since 2018. However, various EU functionaries and papers have already expressed the concern that the real bulk of the solution will lie in adding efficiencies to existing building stock, much of which is expected to be operational for several decades to come.

Notwithstanding the political furore and complications around Brexit, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the UK is on exactly the same page as its EU counterparts in Brussels. The UK’s buildings are responsible for 19% of total domestic greenhouse gas emissions and Mandate, the Net Zero Carbon Buildings standard, has been mandated for all new homes and commercial properties by 2030, with a managed transition from 2020.

Had this resolve been limited to an administrative consensus, it might have remained another toothless attempt, high in intent but lacking in results. However, these diktats are well in line with the emerging possibilities in digitized FM, which centralised IoT, AI and machine learning driven solutions are enabling. Not only can such technologies play a crucial role in delivering the performance asked of new buildings, they can also create such outcomes in old building stock, through the magic of retrofitted solutions.

IoT and AI led retrofitted transformation in

FM - an unprecedented opportunity While shifting to renewable and fossil fuel free energy sources will play a huge role in redefining the consumption profile of buildings, creating a more eco-conscious world cannot be left to getting such solutions up to grid scale. Most experts agree that we are still some years away from being free of dependence on energy sources that come with an environmental cost. Efforts to mitigate this downside will need to be multi-pronged. Along with finding ways to derive a greater proportion of our energy from green sources, reducing wastage and leaks will play a critical role in achieving desired standards in performance.

Perhaps the most significant new strategy for achieving better energy management and sustainability profiles is linking these outcomes to profitability and appreciation in perceived property value. The commercial real estate industry is often a key sector of modern economies and straddling it with regulatory burdens can have disastrous fiscal consequences. More importantly, a solution that addresses ecological concerns, while concurrently enhancing occupant comfort and convenience, shifts the goalposts to value addition, rather than passive compliance expense.

Facilio Inc, with operations in USA, the Middle East and India, is one of the first generation of digital retrofit solution providers to upgrade the energy efficiency of existing buildings. As an early example of the implementation of technology in this space, what is most compelling is that they are able to deliver real-time sustainability as well as future- ready tenant experiences.

“The most significant new strategy for achieving better energy management and sustainability profiles is linking these

outcomes to profitability and appreciation in perceived property value.”

By leveraging the abundant but unused automation data in existing buildings, such an approach combines the meta- goal of a more eco-friendly version of modern civilization, with a more competitive business model. This is not a confluence of interests to be scoffed at. It should be apparent that a startup, such as Facilio, would have attracted less interest within the industry if their solution was just a means to comply with new regulatory restrictions. The linking of sustainability to increased commercial competitiveness and greater profitability doesn’t diminish its green credentials. On the contrary, this is a wonderful synergy that can drive the faster adoption of such measures, while accelerating positive economic outcomes for both emerging and industrialised economies.

A win-win solution Within the context of the UK, and Europe at large, being able to reconcile more efficient energy usage with a boost to the economy is a major positive. Climatic conditions mean that European economies have to factor in larger heating requirements than several other parts of the world. Solar energy, the most accessible source of renewable energy, is also relatively less abundant in this part of world. While much of the region consists of developed economies, recent decades have demonstrated that it is not entirely free of the possibilities for economic downturn either. While such parameters might not present as daunting a prospect as some other regions, they are at least challenging.

A digital transformation in facilities management is the perfect solution for the UK and Europe. Not only are the vast majority of the region’s built assets compatible with a retrofitted version of such technology, the positives will provide a much needed fillip to the economy and significantly lower dependencies. This is an opportunity for the region to lead the world in implementing a much needed solution, while concurrently demonstrating the compelling economic sense it makes. TOMORROW’S FM | 51

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