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By Kristi Colmenero

6 surprising ways technology drives commercial real estate sustainability

Your strategies for sustainability are designed to reduce both pollution and costs across your portfolio. But how can you know the cost-benefit ratio of your efforts? And how can smart real estate technology help you make major gains in your decarbonization efforts? Here are six surprising ways tech can move you along the path to net-zero.

1. Save water and ensure water quality

In every building with a water system, pipes should be—and in the UK, are mandated to be—actively monitored to reduce the risk of waterborne pathogens, such as legionella and pseudomonas aeruginosa). Typically, the prevention method requires water to be run from each tap for five minutes, which wastes upwards of 640 liters of water per tap, per year. Automating that process with pipe monitoring tech can not only save thousands of gallons of water per building, it can also save around nine tons of CO2 (caused by heating the water during testing).

2. Monitor occupancy and spaces

The workspaces in your building can be thoughtfully designed and teeming with amenities. But if they’re not being used, you’re pumping out carbon dioxide and money to power those spaces and keep them comfortable. Occupancy sensors detect when spaces are empty or are being used—and being used actively (e.g., people are present) versus passively (e.g., adjourning for lunch). This utilization data shows which spaces are too large or are rarely occupied, so you can right-size them to maximize space use—and energy efficiency.

3. Measure space utilization and IAQ

In addition to monitoring space utilization, you can also measure indoor air quality (IAQ) and temperature. When you combine that data with utilization info, it reveals when and where workers gather. Leverage these insights to reduce lighting and climate control in that area, as well as to schedule and automate cleaning and sanitizing. This will cut energy costs and save time, money, and cleaning products used.

4. Digitally plan, design, and optimize spaces

Once armed with space utilization insights, turn to an intelligent spatial database that digitally captures all of your real estate assets, as well as workplace data and floorplans, so everything related to your portfolio is in one place. You can then use that data to plan, design, and optimize spaces virtually, without making a single change in the physical world. This improves operational efficiencies, reduces construction waste and project costs, and saves significant energy costs—both during the change process and by virtue of having spaces that are just the right size for the way they’re used.

5. Use data to track the cost-benefit of decarbonization measures

In the pursuit of your sustainability goals, it’s hard to know which actions move the needle the most. Technology that forecasts the carbon pathway of your CRE portfolio and compares it to industry-standard, science-based metrics makes it clear where you should focus your efforts. If there are data gaps, the software can fill them with benchmark data to help you determine the cost-benefit ratio each initiative will have on your emissions and on your bottom line.

6. Take HVAC optimization to the next level

HVAC costs represent about 50% of your overall energy consumption. Across your portfolio, that could mean tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually! While building automation/management systems are helpful, they’re very limited in what they can sense, predict, and automate. An AI platform that learns your entire HVAC system can know when components aren’t functioning and alert engineers. It can also predict outdoor temperature and humidity changes and titrate the temperature controls in spaces accordingly—right at the tenant setpoint but much more efficiently, thus minimizing wear and tear on your equipment and drastically cutting your HVAC energy costs.JLL Technologies is the leader in commercial real estate technology. Speak with an expert to learn how our tech expertise, backed by JLL’s real estate experience, can you help you reach net-zero across your portfolio.