2019 real estate innovation needs collaboration

February 26, 2019

Choose your piece of the puzzle

We are two months into 2019 and a few more into the 4th industrial revolution, as well as the largest energy transition in history. It’s no longer a lingering myth, climate change has switched gears and is waiting for immediate action to get off the fast lane. Our global temperatures are rising, emission levels are soaring and traditional energy supply is becoming scarce. This is why it is up to governments, sectors and industries to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of a limited global temperature of well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (IPCC report), through sustainable incentive and opportunity.

Each industry is responsible for innovating within their field, and PHYSEE chose to catalyse sustainable innovation within real estate through building technology. At least this is where it begins for us, but we believe it continues with, and relies on, collaboration.

Future cities with sector coupling and self-sufficient energy systems will rely on commercial and technological collaboration to happen industry wide but also sector wide. This is why various forms of partnerships with shared value systems must be formed.

So how can this be applied to current real estate innovation? Through three forms of collaboration; large and small enterprise connectivity, early knowledge sharing on common principals, and a shift of mindset towards additional integrations for shared value.

Large enterprises need to find their startup fit

Opportunity for sustainable cities partially lies in the middle of start-ups and established enterprises combining forces. This commercial form of collaboration offers many benefits to both sides of the business spectrum.

Both types of companies bring their own form of innovation to the table and rely on each other for disruptive advancements. Large enterprises might possess market dominance, influence and a pool of resources, while start-ups strive in cutting-edge expertise, specialised talent, agility and first-mover-advantage. The magic lies in the middle of these skillsets, which can lead to the emergence of new technologies, opportunity and economic growth. The Goede Doelen Loterij HQ in Amsterdam, setting new standards of sustainable and smart buildings, demonstrates the opportunity of start-ups and larger company collaboration within real estate. It has become the most sustainable building in The Netherlands with a pool of different sized companies achieving the best BREEAM rating the country has ever seen.

Working with start-ups can help incumbents keep up with the pace of change by leveraging the start-up’s agility to move quickly to adapt to new trends and market demands. – KPMG 2018 proptech survey

So how can both crucial players work together for sustainable impact, instead of against each other? Start-up competitions, governmental subsidies and conferences are a good starting point, and one which has boosted our own innovation pace at PHYSEE. The Postcode Lottery Green challenge, MIPIM world start-up competition and the German PropTech innovation award were pivotal stepping stones that coupled our innovation with the fitting international partners. It has enabled our rapid scaling up, and allowed our established partners to take their sustainable innovation to new levels, with lower utility bills, higher certification scores and happier users.

The larger this community of idea exchanging on the basis of shared value becomes, the more capable our sector becomes in achieving the Paris Agreement goals. Therefore, the mindset needs to shift from competition-based systems, towards collaborative means of business. This is when the realisation takes place that similar philosophies and visions on future cities are at the core of many different companies.

Early stage technology and stakeholder integration

Alongside start-up and large enterprise collaboration, lies the importance of bottom-up stakeholder collaboration for a seamless integration of new technologies in early project stages. Emerging proptech and contech solutions are available; building facades are producing clean energy, rainwater is being harvested and re-used, and data sensors are reducing utility costs. However, these solutions are regarded as additions to already existing construction processes, which ironically hinders the aim of disrupting process innovation.

This mindset must be replaced with one that integrates these ideas, concepts and concerns during the design stage of a project. If all stakeholders collectively understand how to work with one another for the most sustainable, efficient and cost-effective outcome, the process will become seamless and the entire construction supply chain can save costs.

In the real estate industry, learning from stakeholders creates great opportunities to innovate. – Joanna Radeke

Our real estate supply chain consists of many different stakeholders, which strive to deliver high quality and cost-effective products and services. Therefore, it is crucial for collaboration and knowledge exchange in the early stages of construction projects, ensuring to increase our overall quality standards and economic benefits.

On the basis of shared value

Zooming all the way in, collaboration also needs to take place on a technology-linking level. Meaning, building elements must continue being engineered for multifunctional as well as integrated use. Once every element of the building acts as one ecosystem, less energy will be lost, more energy will be saved and user well-being will be increased. This depth of technology collaboration necessitates each player of the game to think as one team, instead of individuals.

Therefore, commercial, stakeholder and technological collaboration on such scales are the answer to achieving sustainable real estate in the future. The reaping benefits include positive social, environmental and economic changes.

Business value and social or environmental values can go hand in hand. – CB Bhattacharya

At PHYSEE we understand these values and aim to be a driving force in enabling future societies, cities and buildings to experience them. There is no winner of this game, so let’s work together and change the perspective.

By: Maike Schwarz

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