Technology plays a pivotal role in driving sustainability in real estate through a range of innovative solutions. From energy-efficient buildings and smart homes to green roofs and advanced building information modelling
The advent of technology has revolutionised various aspects of our lives, including the way we live, work, and interact with the world. Real estate industry is no outlier but has been one of the late adopters of technology methods as it is still mostly dependent on traditional methods and manual labor. However, today, we stand at the cusp of technology and real estate development which not only presents the opportunity for timely deliveries and optimising cost of construction but also making a significant impact in the pursuit of sustainability. As an estimated 70 percent of the infrastructure required by urban areas by 2030 is yet to be built, there is an enormous scope for the construction industry to include technology-enabled sustainable practices.
One of the most notable contributions of technology to sustainability in real estate is the development of energy-efficient buildings which have become the heart of green real-estate. These structures utilise cutting-edge insulation materials, energy-efficient windows, and intelligent heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that can adapt to fluctuations in temperature and occupancy levels. By doing so, they effectively reduce energy waste and carbon emissions.
Moreover, the implementation of building automation systems, such as smart lighting and occupancy sensors, enables better control over energy consumption, enhances comfort levels, and minimises the environmental impact of the building. From an ROI perspective, energy efficient buildings consume less resources (such as water, light etc) and decrease operational costs. They also tend to accrue higher rents and occupancy rates than their conventional counterparts. Energy efficient buildings also benefit from green bonds and climate-linked funds.
Smart homes represent another facet of technology-driven sustainability in real estate. These residences incorporate advanced technologies such as smart thermostats, lighting systems, and energy-efficient appliances that can be conveniently controlled remotely via smartphones or tablets. This empowers homeowners to adjust their energy consumption according to their needs, preferences, and occupancy levels, resulting in reduced waste and lower energy bills. For example, studies have shown that using smart thermostat can save upto 10% of heating and cooling costs.
Additionally, smart homes can utilise renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heating systems. Even minor adapts like using smart bulbs, save upto 75% energy or smart leak sensors can help reduce water wastage, which can be as high as 1 trillion gallons per year in the US alone!
The integration of technology into real estate has led to the development of green roofs, which serve as another exemplar of sustainability. Studies estimate that green roofs can hold up to 60 percent -100 percent of the rain water and when adorned with vegetation, they aid in the absorption of carbon dioxide and diminish heat absorption.
Although not a commercially popular phenomenon in India yet, eco-conscious urbanites are adapting this sustainable practice through DIY efforts such as installing waterproof membranes on the terrace and supporting it with insulation layers.
Building information modelling (BIM)
Construction and allied industries account for 13 percent of the Indian economy but for a long time, it was dependent on outdated technologies, systems and business models. As a result, though other industries progressed swiftly by adopting relevant technologies, labor-productivity in the global construction industry has grown only an average of 1 percent per annum in the past twenty years.
However, things are transforming and Building Information Modeling (BIM) is slowly gaining prominence as an innovative technology to revolutionize the process of designing, constructing, and managing buildings. BIM utilises sophisticated software to create digital representations of structures, allowing architects, engineers, and contractors to collaborate effectively and optimise building design and construction processes. By simulating building performance, energy consumption, and material usage, BIM helps identify potential inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Consequently, BIM reduces waste and minimises the environmental impact associated with real estate development.
Along with technologies like augmented reality, robotics and artificial intelligence, BIM can pave the future of full digitisation in real-estate and enhance the productivity of the industry.
Technology plays a pivotal role in driving sustainability in real estate through a range of innovative solutions. From energy-efficient buildings and smart homes to green roofs and advanced building information modeling, these technologies are instrumental in creating sustainable buildings. They effectively reduce energy waste, lower costs, and mitigate the environmental impact of real estate development. As technology continues to evolve, it is anticipated that even more groundbreaking solutions will emerge, further propelling sustainable development within the real estate industry.