How We Brought PropTech to the Top of the Agenda For the European Real Estate Sector

Q: What happens when you put 80 professionals from real estate, sustainability, and property technology (PropTech) organisations in the same room?

A: Lively debate ensues, everyone feels inspired, and they all have a great time sharing ideas, knowledge, and best practices. Oh, and we make an instant decision to host the event again next year. (Thursday 9th May 2019, to be exact!)


On Thursday 12th April 2018, the 40 Percent Symposium returned to Berlin after an 18-month hiatus. For the first time in the Symposium’s seven-year history, the focus this year was not on sustainability, but on property technology – PropTech.

This year, John Pike, Founder of the 40 Percent Symposium, and Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, Managing Director of ES EnviroSustain, Germany’s leading commercial real estate sustainability consultancy and the Symposium’s Platinum Sponsor, made the decision to move away from sustainability to keep the conversation fresh and focus instead on the emergence of the multitude of European PropTech companies over the last few years.

“I started the 40 Percent Symposium seven years ago, and things have moved on quite dramatically. My view now is that to be sustainable, you need to have modern technology in buildings and you need to behave in a technologically enabled way, and therefore the two come together rather neatly.” – John Pike



Hosting the event in Berlin again was a great decision, not only because it allowed delegates from some of Europe’s largest real estate companies to attend, but also because Germany is a real hub for disruptive technologies. It certainly felt like we were on the frontline of an exciting new movement, in which PropTech, sustainable practices, and circular economy principles are combining for the betterment of not only commercial real estate, but for society as a whole.

Long-time Symposium sponsor and organiser, ES EnviroSustain were at the helm again this year. As Germany’s first dedicated commercial real estate sustainability consultancy, ES has a an unparalleled level of expertise in the provision of cutting-edge sustainability services to real estate firms. Speaking about this year’s event, ES Founder and Managing Director, Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, had the following to say:

“The Symposium this year is not only about energy efficiency. It’s also about new technologies, renewable energy, and it’s about working together. So how can we integrate all these new PropTech technologies into the commercial real estate business?” – Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve



Why real estate? Why PropTech?

For those who are new to the sector, or to the Symposium, it’s worth a reminder that the Symposium is so called because buildings are responsible for approximately 40 percent of global CO2 emissions. It’s a staggering statistic, but one which instantly makes us realise how vital it is that we act now to make new buildings as energy efficient as possible, and also retrofit our existing stock – arguably a much bigger feat.

And that’s exactly where PropTech and our industry disruptors come into play…

In another Symposium first, the afternoon session saw a lively series of roundtable discussions, in which our special guest Disruptors had three minutes to pitch their business to a group of Symposium delegates. The delegates then had a few minutes to discuss the technology and ask the Disruptor any questions, before our big comedy bell rang and everyone moved around to the next table. (I think it’s safe to say we may have invented PropTech speed dating!)

Our Disruptors on the day were:

  • Loop
  • Vanti
  • LightFi
  • SmartB
  • eLearning Studios
  • Botanic Horizon
  • EVANA

Learn more about them all here.

The work these companies are doing is inspiring, and we look forward to following their journeys in the coming months and years. It was great to hear from some of them that they already plan on attending next year’s Symposium.


Can we achieve net zero carbon by 2050?

That’s what every building in the world must attain if we’re going to stand any chance of the effects of global warming being limited to below 2 degrees Celsius, according to a report issued by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) in 2017.

And you know what? If I hadn’t been to the Symposium this year, I would have found it very difficult to not be pessimistic about achieving that goal. But we have 32 years to go until 2050, and what’s happening now is incredible. Yes, we need speed and we need scale, but we also need organisations to lead the way. Well, I really think we saw some of those at this year’s Symposium.

By the end of the day, I was certainly feeling more optimistic and inspired by our chances. More innovative PropTech will undoubtedly help us. And, as Birgit said earlier, a large factor in our success will be working together. Collaboration is key.



Wrapping up (with a video!)

After such an excellent day-long event (not including the fantastic Speakers & Sponsors Dinner the night before), there’s so much more that could be said. But, in yet another Symposium first, the event was filmed this year, which means you can stop reading and start watching! If you’ve got 5 minutes – there’s a full-length trailer with delegate and speaker interviews. If you’ve only got one minute, scroll to the bottom for the Teaser.

All that’s left to say for now is a huge thank you to all of our speakers, sponsors, partners, disruptors, and delegates for making it such a fantastic event. And the most important point of all…

The Symposium will return to Berlin next year, on Thursday 9th May 2019, once again taking place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the heart of Berlin. See you there!


Full-Length Trailer


Teaser


 

Openness and Connectivity: Prerequisites for a True Digitalisation in Real Estate

When it comes to digitalisation in real estate, we hear new buzz words on a regular basis: IoT (Internet of things), big data, AI (artificial intelligence) or lately the blockchain. BIM (building information modelling), one of the “big trends” of recent years, seems to have lost its magic already – even though it is far from being a standard.

So what is this digitalisation hype all about? And why does it seem that all the great promises of the mentioned technologies rarely come to life in real estate reality?

Of course, it is the natural effect of a hype that the potential of a new tool or technology is overestimated while the hurdles to implement and actually use it are often neglected. And yes, often we are just not patient enough. Even in these fast changing times change needs some time.

But I believe that there is another reason which hinders us to harvest the full potential of digitalisation – and not only in real estate: Information silos and proprietary thinking.

For lots of different problems we use very particular software solutions. In real estate this means that different stakeholders operating a building usually work in their own software environment:

The asset manager uses data room providers, the property manager a property management tool, the facility manager a CAFM software and building automation tools and so on. What most of these tools have in common is that originally they were not designed to share their output, be it with other software solutions or with users outside of the application.

This produces the most awkward results:

  • Asset managers sometimes sell and buy buildings without knowing all technical and economical details.
  • Some property managers are requested to print all of their digital communication on paper (!) so that they can hand over all info once a contract ends.
  • It happens that facility managers use only a fraction of the functionalities of a CAFM system because the necessary information about a building is not available and it would take too much effort to asses it.

What effect does this have on the above mentioned digitalisation trends?

  • How smart can artificial intelligence be if it looks only on particular fields of operations rather than on the building as a whole?
  • Do you want to have a different blockchain for all of these fields of operations?
  • And a different dashboard/interface for every IoT system you use?
  • What is the benefit of big data analytics when the data samples are rather small?

It is often stated that data is supposed to be the new oil. But unlike in the oil markets the price for data doesn’t go up if you lock it up in in large silos. This is not a zero sum game. It’s rather the opposite: The more you allow the data to flow the more you will gain because other stakeholders will gain from this data as well.

Now, what does this all mean for the digitalisation of real estate after all?

In my opinion we have to create a mindset of openness and connectivity. The providers of software tools for real estate will have to focus on how they can make their results available to others. Building owners and operators should start to connect these data sets. This will not only allow them to gain new insights, increase efficiency of their building operations and make better investment decisions. This will also enable the big technology trends mentioned above to finally contribute to a better real estate management.

With this view we started the development of Loghouse, a data platform for commercial real estate that is designed to bring all relevant data streams of a building together. With its web based platform Loghouse allows building owners to quickly find and share their information with any stakeholder while the open software interface will allow to exchange data with any third party software.


Many thanks to Loghouse for providing this insightful post. Loghouse will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

What Effect Will Today’s Disruptors Have on the Future of Work?

Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine deep learning, Internet of Things, big data analytics to name but are a few are the buzz words we now hear regularly. Will these define the Future of Work or is there a greater dynamic?

Recent research by Oxford university estimates that a staggering 35% of jobs could be replaced by automation in the next two decades. The growing influence of the Generation Y/millennials who are likely to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025, is already having an impact on working practices and will define the requirements of the buildings they occupy.

If the last 10 years have been about cost reduction, hot desking and resource utilisation, now it is about flexible space that enables creativity, collaboration, learning and socialising. In short, the combination of rapidly advancing technology with a changing work culture will see a move away from honest work for honest pay to meaningful work in a meaningful environment.

This cannot happen without a transformation in the way buildings are designed and used.


Many thanks to Paul Sutcliffe for providing this insightful post. Paul will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

The Circular Economy and Its Role as a Driver of Sustainability

Thinking consciously about how natural resources are used has always been a core topic at the DGNB. Right from the beginning, the DGNB has offered a certification system that favours a holistic approach to carbon footprints. Therefore, this has always involved not only the conscious selection of building materials according to their composition and origin, but also a methodical assessment of the ‘reclaimability’ of individual residual materials – all based on strict criteria, criteria that have thus become established in the market.

Until now, these were the classic issues encountered in conventional closed-loop recycling, but in recent years the circular economy has also gained attention at the European level. It’s one of the big topics of the future. This was also triggered by the Cradle to Cradle philosophy of Michael Braungart and William McDonough,whilst organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are also firm believers in the approach. The thinking goes further than it used to in closed-loop recycling. For the first time, new economic factors come into play which provide a starting point for new business models, redefining how we view inherited assumptions regarding acquisition and ownership. Effectively, this is turning the spotlight on pure service provision. As a result, even the technology giant Philips no longer ‘just’ sells lamps; since 2015 it has been selling ‘Light as a Service’.

It’s all about quality

This development coincides with manufacturers being held more accountable for their actions, and may result in a new understanding of quality. Producers retain ownership of their products and thus have a vested interest in the quality of their wares, whether they can be re-used, and whether they can again offer the same or even superior quality. This is an approach we actively support at the DGNB. For instance, the issue of manufacturer responsibility (including the obligation to take products back) was incorporated in the deconstruction and disassembly criteria as early as 2015. Of course, these criteria are central to the technical quality aspects of certification.

In December 2015, the EU signed off its first action plan for supporting and promoting the circular economy. Its first package revolved in the short term around reducing waste, and in the medium term around decreasing the use of landfills whilst increasing product recycling and re-deployment rates. The EU action plan also addresses the key idea behind the circular economy when it comes to using products over their entire life cycle – ie from production to actual use, but also maintenance (repair), waste management and the deployment of secondary raw materials, which obviously should be returned to the economic cycle.

The DGNB promotes greater use of circular economy methods in buildings

Given the growing importance of this topic and our responsibility to look after resources consciously and responsibly (or simply do what is logical and right), the DGNB has set itself the objective to become more active in this area. For instance, the new 2018 version of the DGNB System will explicitly address the circular economy, providing incentives (with corresponding bonuses) in certain areas, especially when planning and carrying out projects.

Making such aspects more outwardly visible is the DGNB’s way of providing organisations with a fillip to consider corresponding concepts when planning a building. The idea is to assess and evaluate systems as a whole. When examining certain issues that are addressed by projects, ie those that fall under the circular economy (like buildings inspired by cradle-to- cradle thinking), it is immediately apparent that the crux of the issue is quality – for people and the environment.

Taken from the angle of the DGNB philosophy, the methods applied are highly action-based and one must therefore wonder how they actually add value to a project, and what the relationship is between actual expenditure and usefulness. Beacon projects are important for showing the way forward and stimulating debate, but new ideas also have to gain critical mass. This being the case, to identify ideas that genuinely add value, for people and the environment, it is important to assess all of the aspects holistically, which of course is the approach taken under the DGNB System. Supporting positive thought and action – and using this as a point of learning – is essential if the innovation cycles required by the construction industry are to be accelerated.

Sustainability is not a matter of choice

Essentially, this is not about what we actually call things, or subtle nuances in the definition of terms like sustainability, circular economy and Cradle to Cradle. It’s about doing what’s right for people and the environment, and not creating obstacles by making unnecessary distinctions. Resources must be used responsibly. There’s no alternative. This should be a fundamental understanding shared by everyone involved in construction – just like other sustainable building topics. Designing products holistically, with a focus on the life cycle, should be something that goes without saying rather than being just a matter of choice, or something that depends on the availability of financial means, or even market demand. Accordingly, sustainability in everything we build should be the new normal.

This is a goal the DGNB strives for. It doesn’t matter which new terms are used or what aspects lead us to achieve this goal. They need to be supported; they need to be used properly. The only important elements are the sincerity of our intentions and the underlying principles observed by everyone involved in building our surrounding environment – an environment that harms no-one and meets the required quality standards, not just in terms of technology, but also ‘architectural culture’, so that we feel comfortable living in this environment.


Many thanks to our Content Partner DGNB for providing this thought-provoking post. DGNB will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

Virtual Reality: A Transformation in Property Viewing

How do we create a future in the present? How can we gain perception with emotion, space and feeling in a property that does not exist?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality gives a sense of presence, evoking the senses inside the brain of what appears to be real but is made of reconstructive 3D environments and situations in which the user interacts with. It uses a headset to fully enclose the eyes to be fully immersed into these environments.

Types of VR Headsets

Here are range of different VR headsets you can get on the market:

High-end VR comes in the form of tethered headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, requiring both a powerful PC and large area in which to use them. What you’ll get with this is the most immersive experience money can buy.

Mid-range VR is a popular option and a great example of this is the Samsung Gear headset. Unlike the Vive and Rift which run off powerful PCs, the Samsung Gear runs off your Samsung smartphone – making it a cheaper and more portable option. You can also use these within a small space since your movement isn’t tracked via motion sensors.

Low-range VR, like the Google Cardboard, is a final option and one that’s attractive due to its low cost, portability and compatibility with a wide range of smartphones.

Why do I need VR?

If you are marketing an expensive property, you want to give the best chance your customers a view of what they are buying; what property look like or will look like after construction, with all the trimmings, colours, the feel as they enter the different parts of the building.

For designers, VR can be a practical tool to gain insight into a building interior, such as the layout of the walls and floors, spatial feel, natural and artificial lightening, and any customisation the client requires can be made inside the building, with the customer making the choices of their style and preferences.

For off-plan developments it is the best viewing possible without construction taking place. It allows clients to walk through their proposed development and get to purchasing decision quicker.

Finally, it can be used for training on emergency evacuation procedures-what to do if there was a fire-what are the escape routes, what procedure should I follow, what should be the protocol if there was a security breach.

Who’s Using VR Training?

Major global brands like Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Sony are investing heavily in VR and the rate of VR adoption in company training programmes is on the rise. In 2017, alone, VR Learning Studio (VRLS) developed VR solutions for numerous companies: the BBC, Channel 4, Deloitte, British Gas, Roche, GKR Scaffolding – to name but a few. The wind of change is blowing and more and more companies are keen to become part of this technology transformation.

To find our more, contact

nitin@e-learningstudios.com

www.vrlearning.studio


Many thanks to ELearning Studios for providing this fantastic post. ELearning Studios will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

Seeing is…Believing? The Pitfalls of Measuring Air Quality.

In a pre-industrialised world, there were many things we didn’t need to worry about: food additives, sugary drinks, car accidents and – other than in exceptional cases – air quality. The human being comes equipped with an excellent array of safety warning features: visual aids to sense danger in advance, aural sensors alerting us to unusual sounds such as the approach of predators outside the cave, and a highly sensitive olfactory system which allows us to detect a range of toxic substances. Highly-evolved in our (natural) surroundings, the combination of these sensors was critical to our health and survival.

Like all animals, we evolved within a certain set of parameters in order to thrive within that environment. However, the speed of our creativity and inventions has far outstripped our evolution: we remain the same animal post-industrialisation as we were when we were hunter-gatherers, and yet our environment and life-style has changed dramatically. We have doubled our life expectancy and cured untold illnesses, harnessing technology to advance at often dizzying speeds; and as is often the case, we have also done this without fully understanding or considering the unintended consequences on the human animal.

This dichotomy is nowhere more apparent than in our understanding of our own health & wellbeing, particularly when it comes to air quality. It is unsurprising that the issue has become one of such concern globally, not least as it highlights the impact of heavy industry on our health. But I suspect the reason it has suddenly become so prevalent in the media is that air pollution has now reached a level where it is visible.

In the same way that the introduction of smart-metering made resource consumption visible, air quality monitoring allows us to finally see the air quality around us. The medical community has been aware of the detrimental and dangerous impact of poor air quality for decades now, but it has only recently become a source of global concern as the data on both sources and impact become available across social media and the press. The democratisation of data has enabled each and every one of us to understand the impact of the modern world around us: seeing is believing, and then, worrying.

Outdoor versus Indoor

  • The sources of air pollution are many and complex, and it is important to differentiate between outdoor and indoor air quality.
  • Outdoor air quality is perhaps the most frustrating of the two, since there is little we can do as individuals to mitigate and improve it; instead, we must lobby and rely on our governments to act.
  • Interior air quality, commonly referred to as IAQ, refers to the air within our buildings. Increasingly, this is where we are seeing buildings transitioning from passive receptacles to active protectors and enablers for their occupants.

Measure, measure and measure constantly

In our modern world, our new eyes, ears and noses have been extended into cameras, sensors and smart-technology monitors, all connected to enhanced ‘brains’ which allows us to view, analyse and react to the information in the same way that our natural bio-systems do. We cannot manage what we cannot see and measure.

The market for air quality testing and real-time monitoring is growing quickly, driven by the public awareness of the issues. As in all rapidly-growing markets, entrants are focusing products across the widest range of scope and cost, and it can often be difficult for the average consumer to know which way to turn. Frameworks such as RESET™ Air, the WELL Building Standard™ and Fitwel® – amongst others – have emerged in order to provide some structure and benchmarks against which to measure outcomes. Outcomes, in fact, are the key drivers: the goal is to ensure the optimum air quality for human health, and there are many paths to achieving this.

Where to start?

Just like going to the doctor with an unknown ailment, the first step is to diagnose the problem. An initial air quality analysis, the ‘blood test’ if you like, will reveal any underlying problems. The solutions to these may be simple or complex, depending on the results of the building’s blood test. From there, a plan of mitigation and improvement can be created, and real-time monitoring established to ensure that air quality is maintained for as long as people are breathing in the space. Just as our visits to the doctor are necessary, occasional, in-depth testing is sometimes necessary, but constant monitoring of health impacts is critical.

In the simplest of terms, breathing is not something we should have to worry about; it is the most fundamental of all elements, since we cannot live for more than a few minutes without air, making it one of the key problems for future space travel and moving off-planet.


Many thanks to Philippa Gill for providing this insightful blog. Philippa will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

Introducing Botanic Horizon – BoHo

Cities are mostly found in human friendly – resources rich – like agricultural or coastal environments. Growing cities depend on available space and therefore use the two sun exposed flat and vertical dimensions as intensively as possible. The flat expansion reduces often the most fertile and life supporting ground and its ecosystem, while vertical expansion does not offer the chance for the inhabitants to compensate the natural need of humans for a healing ecological environment. The gap between human demand and available ecological life support expands with the expansion of human settlement.

Botanic Horizon – BoHo – has the goal to close that gap and give the chance for humans to use their ability of creating vertical living spaces for expanding a healthy life supporting ecological system.

BoHo is a unique super light textile based horticulture system to grow seeds and cuttings from almost any plant. The simple construction design and easy handling and installation allow to use almost every vertical space and transfer existing and new facades into a garden accessible to people in vertical buildings. The semi-transparent rope structure inspires to realize all kinds of design and even allows garden installations in front of windows or glass facades.

The simple installation design and versatility of the system and plants to be grown make it easily transferable for indoor applications like greenhouses, basements or offices. Usually laboursome maintenance of a vertical garden suddenly becomes pleasant harvesting of herbs, vegetable, flowers, fruits and crops and a life supporting income.

Botanic Horizon is also offering to other ecosystem supporting technologies a hub to access façade spaces. So it is possible to combine PV-systems and plants in a successful symbiosis on the same façade and to transfer unused area into energy and food.

But it is not only energy and food. It is also shadowing and cooling the facades during the summer time, it is cleaning the air from pollutions, it is evaporating water and reinstalling the natural water circulation of the former horizontal flora, which transferred 40% of all incoming sunlight radiation into cooling evaporation. A façade with no evaporation of plants is fully exhibited to the sunlight and converts the sunlight radiation to a high amount into heat, which is transported through the façade into the building. Until now insulation and air condition is the answer to this phenomenon, diminishing more resources and adding more extra heat into the city.

Botanic Horizon offers the ecological way to fight that heat inside the buildings and in our streets and to bring back bio diversity and our life supporting ecosystem to where we need it.


Many thanks to Botanic Horizon for providing this insightful blog. Botanic Horizon will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

Energy Management – The New Generation

Buildings are responsible for more than 40% of the global energy use and one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. 75% of the buildings in Germany were erected before 1979, this means they have really bad energy efficiency standards. Thus, the building sector has the largest potential for avoiding significant and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the facility and energy management is a rudimentary digitised sector. Due to a lack of useful tools for monitoring and control of resource consumption we lose the chance to identify and address efficiency issues in buildings. There are 235 energy management solutions listed by the German government. But this has had no impact on achieving the national climate and energy savings goals.

Frameworks as ISO 50001 may help to create awareness and train people to implement systematic processes for achieving continual improvements. But the lack of real-time data and easy to use analytic tools is still a key challenge. Even with advanced metering technology solutions significant energy savings are still not reality, since behavioural barriers impede their implementation. Nowadays users need motivators such as neighbourhood building comparison, competition (gamification) and social platforms. Traditional energy dashboards present consumers historical consumption data and no energy saving hints. In other words, they lack relevant information and have no impact.

Altogether, common professional energy management tools fail due to high complexity, high prices, lack of usability and the required expertise to understand them, leading only to frustration and confusion. It’s hardly surprising that the energy management of companies usually is still based on yearly bills.

At smartB we understood that the energy efficiency sector can’t remain like this. Through advanced sensor technology and smart analytics smartB is able to assist companies in revealing hidden savings potentials and making the energy manager’s life easier. As a result the user gets key performance indices (KPI), anomalies, alerts, trends, benchmarks, forecasts and deep, technical energy insight constantly calculated and intuitively provided through the smartB dashboard and our mobile app.

One of our big differentiators is that we master the machine-learning and deep-learning techniques necessary to transform the high-resolution energy consumption data from our so-called ‘smartBEAT’ meters into relevant feedback for our clients. We measure 4,000 values ​​per second, far beyond the usual 15-minute values. This data helps us to tackle the NILM problem (non-intrusive load monitoring). NILM assumes that every electrical consumer leaves an individual fingerprint on the load profile. As a result, disaggregation of these fingerprints provides detailed insight into the operational activity and energy consumption of individual devices. This enables the identification of energy efficiency potentials and the definition of device-specific cost-saving measures. Nevertheless, NILM is a worldwide unsolved problem. smartB holds the key to solving this problem. With each new client profile we are getting better in mastering NILM for all of our clients.

smartB is also the first company in the German market that implemented a fully automated measurement and verification tool based on an international well-known scientific standard (“IPMVP”). This tool allows users the precise assessment of his energy savings after implementing an energy efficiency measure.

smartB’s vision towards the global energy transition is that value-enriched energy data will help energy managers, facility managers and non-expert users to contribute to saving energy and optimising processes. Therefore smartB is working hard to provide useful energy consumption insights.


Many thanks to smartB for providing this excellent post. smartB will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

Simplicity is the Key for a Sustainable Future

One simple way for us to achieve global emission reduction is to reduce our energy use. We don’t need to change our lifestyle, but rather use technology to help us waste less energy, for example by turning things off when they are not needed.

You’re probably thinking this should be easy. Unfortunately, we often forget to do this, especially at work, where it isn’t clear whose responsibility it is, or if we’re even allowed. Neither do current solutions provide much of an incentive. The price and effort in making your home or office smart and more energy efficient doesn’t justify the savings. In the commercial sector only 1% of a typical company’s expenses are energy costs so energy efficiency is not a priority. Today’s solutions are costly and time consuming to implement, usually needing a complete re-fit of the office, and don’t offer much more than energy saving.

Firstly, energy efficiency needs to be easy. With LightFi’s technology we have a true retrofit to create and IoT enabled building automation solution. Our automation system is controlling the lights in a lecture theatre used by hundreds of people every week at a world famous university. Their problem was that lights in the lecture theatres would be often left on overnight wasting energy. There wasn’t a business case to spend 10s of thousands of pounds on re-fitting the lecture theatre with motion sensors, so they were looking for novel ideas to implement that would suit the complexities of the real world – where existing infrastructure is far from ideal. Our system was installed in 1 hour, cost 1/10th of the price, and is saving them 57% on the lighting bill right now. This is giving our client a < 2 year return on investment. LightFi is a true retrofit, a system that works as an add-on to existing infrastructure, and doesn’t require any re-wiring.

What’s more is that it doesn’t just save energy. We use a unique way of detecting room occupancy that embraces our modern lifestyle – the fact that we are never without our phones. This way one of our sensors can determine how many people are in a room 250 sqm or bigger without breaking a sweat. We can anonymously determine the number of people in the room and begin to control and automate more than just lights. Our newest product can optimise the HVAC, especially the ventilation – able to tell the system to provide the right amount of quality air for the number of people in the room. Having a poorly ventilated room can reduce a persons cognitive ability by half, but by knowing how many people there are in real time, we make sure that this never happens.

Being energy efficiency is no longer difficult, costly or time consuming. It’s easy with LightFi – and offers insight into what’s really needed and where.


Many thanks to LightFi for providing this interesting post. LightFi will be joining us at our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.

From Connected Buildings to Interconnected Buildings: How This Could be Sustainable

We’ve all heard a lot about IoT, PropTech and how buildings of the future may look.  Those who still think that a building is just four walls and a roof may need to adjust their thinking. Really smart buildings connect everything from infrastructure to devices to make your buildings alive, technology use more efficient and alter the way we live and work together. Just to give you a couple of examples: you can have your employees securely move about the workplace with their smart device, optimise the indoor climate they work in and use spaces and working equipment more efficiently; or you can ease the work of your Facility Manager by providing real-time information on building equipment performance to focus on maintenance activities that have the most impact and reduce the risk for critical incidents.

Really smart, but is this really resource efficient? A lot of data has to be managed which has to be secure and to be looked at in the right angle. A lot of technology has to be installed and smoothly used. How long will this technology be up-to-date if we look at a building’s life cycle? We may have to discuss the level of connectivity we really need. We may not put our focus on individual buildings but on interconnected buildings for which smart technology is crucial. Taking the example of resource efficiency: more cost-effective technologies are more feasible at a larger scale, e. g. the use of solar energy where design doesn’t have to rely on maximising each building’s solar access; complementary energy needs of occupancies can support more efficient energy infrastructure, and diverse activities can generate good opportunities for sharing energy between buildings. Larger-scale systems may also pique the interest of big investors.

If and how connectivity is really taking buildings and communities to new heights will also be discussed at our symposium in April 2018.


Many thanks to Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve from 40 Percent Symposium host, ES EnviroSustain for providing this thought-provoking post. ES EnviroSustain are once again the hosts of our Symposium on the 12th April 2018. For further details, please view the agenda here, or register to attend.