Terry Sharp, President of the Building Controls Industry Associaon (BCIA), assesses some of the innovaons in the built environment, now being parally driven by changes in atudes towards public health.

card?”. Now, the question is more likely to be: “Do you take cash?”. Long before lockdown there was already talk of moving towards a ‘cashless’ society’, whereby financial transactions are not conducted with money in the form of physical banknotes or coins. Over the past nine months, the focus on restricting the spread of germs has intensified and ‘card only’ check out tills in supermarkets are now a common sight.


nce upon a time, a common

question in shops, pubs and

restaurants was: “Do you take

As soon as Coronavirus took a grip on the world, and shortly before we entered lockdown, we were all being strongly advised to wash our hands thoroughly after coming into contact with surfaces likely to have been touched by other people. Door handles, taps, shopping trolleys and petrol pumps were all potential places where the disease could be easily spread from one hand to another. It is no surprise then when you consider how many fingers our notes and coins come into contact with that contactless payment systems are quickly becoming a real necessity, so much so that it is now almost a shock when an outlet does not offer a contactless option.

A couple of examples have already caught my eye that show how contactless customer interaction is moving away from being a useful novelty to becoming a key offering in commercial environments. Leyeju, a hotel chain in China, now runs nine smart hotels across the country boasting an entirely automated stay, with an unstaffed reception and no concierge. Instead, customers check in using biometric facial recognition technology before being taken to their room by a robot. In the room everything is automated, the lighting, air conditioning, TV and even the curtains, eliminating the need to

touch switches or controls. Meanwhile at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Umhlanga, South Africa, guests are able to control the lights, TV and the air conditioning, via the Hilton mobile app.

Potenal to grow

Of course, hotels are not the only places in which we will begin to see changes in routine, and smart technology is likely to be a driving force in a lot of changes to our way of living. Global market research firm Technavio recently announced its latest market research report, titled ‘Global Smart Buildings Market 2020- 2024’, which offers an up-to-date analysis regarding the current market scenario, latest trends and drivers, and the overall market environment. According to the report, the smart buildings market size has the potential to grow by USD19.17 billion during 2020-2024, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate during the forecast period. The report forecasts that, “increasing industrial development, commercialisation, and awareness of effective utilisation of energy and building optimisation will drive the adoption of BMS, especially in Europe and APAC. As the need to connect different control systems will become eminent,

BMS is anticipated to experience high adoption in the commercial sector, high-end residential buildings, and the services sector during the forecast period. Rapid strides in technology innovation will further propel the adoption of BMS as the systems can deploy IoT, analytics, and cloud computing for effective monitoring, controlling, and operating building facilities during the forecast period.”

By the time our children and grandchildren have grown up this way of living is more than likely going to be the norm, and some of them are already assessing how we can improve our built environment – even at a very young age! It therefore gave me great pleasure to name the winner of the BCIA’s ‘Schoolz Out’ competition held over the summer, which challenged school pupils to design an energy saving product or initiative for their school which uses an element of control to save energy. Seven-year-old Edgar Vann won first prize for his design; a rainwater saving device powered by solar panels. Well done to Edgar, and the BCIA is looking forward to running the competition again next year.


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