Building for the future: Passing the Gen S test

Thomasin Crowley
WiredScore APAC
/ EdgeProp Singapore
August 26, 2022 10:00 AM SGT
For a building to be considered smart, it must be cost-efficient, sustainable, future-proof, and able to deliver an outstanding user experience (Photo: PixaBay)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - In today’s world, climate change is at the heart of most decisions we make, such as the food we choose to eat, the packaging our products come in, and the way we use energy and dispose of recyclables in our homes. Recent extreme weather linked to climate change highlights the dire climate situation we face and the urgent need to preserve the environment and climate.
The urgency of the situation is most keenly felt among the so-called Generation Sustainable, also known as Gen S. This term is loosely used to refer to the generation born during the 2010s and who place sustainability at the centre of everything they do, including the choice of their built environment.
Let us consider the future of our workplaces and think about how the rising expectations of Gen S will impact the way we build today, and the offices in which they will work in the future.
Based on our conversations with 100 global occupiers, including corporate real estate decision-makers, WiredScore found that over a quarter of working professional Singaporeans believe sustainability to be the most important factor when selecting a new office building.
In addition, 87% of the respondents see accessible energy and sustainability data as important factors. Thus, not only do people want to work in sustainable places, they also want the statistics to prove it.
The data shows that if developers want to attract tenants, they need to evidence the fact that they do not just consider sustainability, but also ingrain it into the framework and infrastructure of their buildings.
This leads us to the question: How can developers prove that they are setting and maintaining exemplary standards of sustainability within their buildings?

Green Mark 2021

Singapore’s government has prioritised sustainability within the real estate industry and provided a world-class green-building certification for landlords and developers via the Green Mark certification, which was first released in 2005 and overseen by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
This standard is widely adopted by Singaporean landlords and has helped them to develop, assess and improve the overall environmental performance and carbon impact of their buildings.
In September 2021, BCA introduced Green Mark 2021, a revised Green Mark standard, as part of the Singapore Green Building Master Plan, which was rolled out in April 2021.
Green Mark 2021 adds the optional “intelligence badge”, recognising that to build a truly sustainable building, we must go much further than basic performance statistics. We need to integrate and leverage technology.
Our very own SmartScore certification assesses, certifies and improves the technology underpinning our real estate, and works in conjunction with BCA’s Green Mark.
For a building to be considered smart, it must be cost-efficient, sustainable, future-proof, and able to deliver an outstanding user experience. It must also deliver outstanding outcomes for all users, through digital technology, to exceed their evolving expectations.
An emphasis on the building’s end-user should be the foundation of all building certifications. This leads us into our second question: are all smart buildings sustainable?
The rising “green” expectations of the next generation will impact the way future homes and offices are built (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Harnessing smart technologies

In short, no. Each piece of technology that is input into a building has an inherent environmental cost attached. However, smart technology is a key enabler for improving the efficiency of our buildings, making them more sustainable. It is a necessity.
By harnessing the power of smart technologies, we can create a built environment that also protects the natural world. Using technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), analytics and AI, landlords can measure, analyse and optimise building systems and their sustainability performance.
For example, reducing energy consumption by allowing the building to learn the habits and demands of its inhabitants and environment unlocks a building’s energy-saving capabilities.
In the case of building management, most commercial buildings have a Building Management System (BMS) capable of dynamically adjusting the cooling and lighting to the density of occupants within a given area.
But to get to that point, the data generated by the BMS must be well-structured and readable. Moreover, it must be enhanced with additional technology that provides further data-points, such as occupancy detection data or external climate data.
By combining the enhanced data from the original BMS, and the data provided by the additional technology, a building’s entire technological ecosystem can run more efficiently, learning from itself and its occupiers. In essence, more data advances the building’s ability to adapt, creating a smarter, more information-rich building that has the capacity to accelerate its sustainability levels beyond basic performance monitoring.

Preparing the office of the future

Technology isn't the silver bullet for sustainability but it is a key enabler in measuring and implementing effective sustainability solutions. Deploying technology in a building is an act of spending carbon (the carbon embodied in the construction of sensors, lighting arrays, networks, among others) and money today to save carbon and money tomorrow.
Proving that these systems are being implemented efficiently to the benefit of the user and the environment is the challenge — a challenge we aim to solve through our certifications. By getting their buildings certified, developers and landlords can clearly communicate their credentials to investors, occupiers and competitors alike.
For example, our clients who achieve SmartScore certification stand out in a market that is awash with numerous ESG claims. Our certification proves that their building has been built with sustainability as a key cornerstone, with the ability to maintain its green status long into the future. In addition, SmartScore Platinum-certified buildings tend to outperform similar buildings in the same area by 20% to 30% in terms of overall energy efficiency.
A long-term benefit is the ability to attract an ever-more sustainably conscious market of occupiers and tenants. The decision-makers of today already place sustainability as a top priority, and the occupiers of tomorrow will position it higher on their agenda as the effects of global warming and climate change become more apparent.
When Gen S steps into the office in the future, they will bring a lifetime of conscious consumerism and green narrative into the workplace. This will not only impact how they choose to live, but where they choose to work as well.
Thomasin Crowley WiredScore - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Thomasin Crowley is global director of APAC, WiredScore

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