Enterprises are increasingly focusing on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) programs. While there are numerous ways in which companies can become more sustainable, one potential avenue is through buildings themselves. 

For example, according to PwC, 82 percent of senior executives view climate change and carbon reduction as chief issues when considering real estate development and purchases. Prefab and 3-dimensional printed systems is one way in which companies can reduce their carbon footprint. A recent InformationWeek article profiles a Canadian firm that developed pre-designed custom systems that essentially eliminate on-site construction through modular components that are rolled into an office and deployed. 

However, some of the biggest opportunities can be found in the integration of technology with physical infrastructure and the use of analytics systems to spot trends and identify areas for improvement. 

Examples are digitizing HVAC systems and adding Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities or embedding sensors in floors, walls, or ceilings. With technologies such as machine vision and thermal sensors, companies can determine a floor’s occupancy load and adapt lighting, heating, or cooling in real time. 

As these technologies are deployed, it follows that companies will revisit their analytics platform to ensure it provides the intuitive data access needed to support ESG programs. Stakeholders from various areas of the business will need to analyze reports and review insights, so organizations must ensure widespread data access and that reports can be customized to individual user need. 

According to a recent UN report, it’s possible to get to net-zero carbon emissions with today’s technology. In addition, innovations and improvements could result in 40 percent embodied carbon reduction by 2030. In order for companies to actually achieve this, however, executive leadership must address numerous considerations, including: 

  • Defining a strategic direction 
  • Integrating systems and software 
  • Ensuring data and analytics are optimized to contribute to sustainability gains 

You can read more about the future of smart buildings here, and for more on other examples of how AI is driving greater sustainability check out this previous APEX of Innovation post.