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Balancing people, planet and profits

By Chintan Soni, CEO and Co-Founder of Ecolibrium

Research from the World Economic Forum has found that the built environment is responsible for 40 per cent of global energy consumption and 33 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, with one-fifth of the world’s largest 2,000 companies adopting net zero strategies by 2050 or earlier.

As one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the real estate industry must unite to decarbonise our planet.

In the midst of an energy crisis, it might feel to some that their ambitious ESG initiatives need to take a back seat while the – hopefully – short term issues around energy cost inflation are resolved.

However, from a commercial and industrial real estate perspective, both issues are ultimately driven by the overall efficiency of buildings. With increased asset efficiency comes a reduction not just in energy consumption and costs but also in your carbon footprint.

Directions to the road to net zero?

With spiralling energy costs and ever-increasing regulations around ESG reporting, landlords and occupiers need immediate solutions to address these challenges. But most businesses simply have no idea what their carbon footprint is, or indeed what steps they need to take to even begin their net zero journey. It all starts with looking objectively about where you are today. Not in 2030 or 2050. But right now. With these insights, you can begin to create a sustainability blueprint to optimise your building or portfolio – and this is where tech comes in.

Technological innovation

There has been an explosion of technological innovation in the built environment in the past few years. Smart sustainability solutions are here now, drawing on cutting-edge technology such as bespoke machine learning algorithms and AI to provide actionable building intelligence. Rather than asset managers and occupiers using intuition alone, these deeper smart insights into building performance allow you to make more data-driven decisions.

Leveraging IoT networks

At Ecolibrium, a machine learning-led decarbonisation platform, we have developed a technology product called SmartSense which assimilates thousands of internet of things (IoT) data points from across a facility’s entire energy infrastructure. This information is then channelled through our proprietary machine learning algorithms. Customers can visualise the data through a bespoke user interface that provides actionable insights and a blueprint for achieving operational excellence, sustainability targets, and healthy buildings. This connected infrastructure generates a granular view of an asset’s carbon footprint, unlocking inefficiencies and empowering smart decision-making, while driving a programme of continuous improvement to deliver empirical and tangible sustainability and productivity gains.

The ‘triple bottom line’

Our vision for industry is to help businesses create a balance between people, planet and profit – which can be called the ‘triple bottom line’. We like to call it sustainable prosperity, and really means that we aim to create equilibrium across all three elements. We firmly believe that being sustainable is not just about being green, it’s also making sure that you grow your business in the right way. Reducing your carbon footprint is key but not at the cost of profitability.

From a people perspective, you want to make sure that your working environment can inspire and encourage employees to do their best work. Are the light, humidity and temperature levels optimised? Technology can now automate some of these processes, adapting workplaces as required to boost productivity.

A sustainable future

By focusing on the micro behaviours and operations impacting our local environment, only then can we understand how to positively impact the macro climate challenge we’re all facing.

We’ve never had access to so much data – but without smart technology synthesising it into actionable and useful intelligence, a lot of it is useless. We’ve made real progress in recent years to accelerate the integration of technology into physical spaces and places, and it is encouraging to see startup founders applying their time, efforts and talents into the sector.

Technological innovation certainly has the potential to unlock a more sustainable future for our sector, and I’m excited to see how sustainability-focused changemakers can lead the decarbonisation drive.

About Sarah OBeirne

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