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‘Smart buildings’ bring many benefits

‘Smart buildings’ bring many benefits

At one time, if you met a senior executive in the real estate industry who was in charge of digital buildings and innovation, you might have responded with a blank stare of incomprehension.

But now that “smart buildings” are all the rage and most people understand their appeal, Thano Lambrinos doesn’t have much explaining to do when it comes to his role as senior vicepresident at QuadReal Property Group. He leads a team that’s focused on redefining the way buildings are designed, built and managed, and how occupants experience their environments.

The Toronto-based executive is also chair of the stakeholder committee for the BOMA BEST Smart Building group, working with industry peers (GWLRA, Avison Young, Ivanhoe Cambridge, JLL, Manulife, Morguard, among others) to create a program that will define what “smart building” means to the industry and to customers. A “smart building” is about being connected. Through the installation and use of advanced and integrated building technology systems, it joins up all activities and operations — from lighting to air conditioning to security to safety operations. It leads to greater efficiency and comfort while also

THANO LAMBRINOS, SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, reducing carbon emissions QUADREAL PROPERTY GROUP and lowering the cost of operating the building. “There are many ‘smart’ certification programs popping up, yet none to date has provided a robust enough framework to articulate what’s required to be ‘smart’ and what benefits ‘smart’ actually brings to building owners, operators, and our customers,” said Lambrinos.

“A number of these certifications are from for-profit organizations, which makes me wonder if they’re truly dedicated to bettering the industry and our environments.

“With BOMA’s globally respected position as a leading not-for-profit real estate association, the group has built a fantastic framework powered by industryleading CRE firms, bringing real value at a cost that simply covers the requirements to administer the program — but no TV spots featuring celebrities, unfortunately,” he quipped.

“Our goal is to identify the use of technology within the built-environment and measure the levels at which owners are using it to affect six key areas: sustainability, health and wellbeing, security, connectivity, data management and analytics. With this program, we’ll be able to measure and benchmark within our own portfolio, and against industry peers across the globe.”

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), which has drastically increased in importance to organizations and to the public in the last several years, refers to a combination of business standards that many investors use to screen upcoming investments. It’s now frequently the focus of policy, legislation and regulation.

“ESG is absolutely here to stay, and rightfully so,” said Lambrinos. “It’s critical for all organizations to embrace each letter of the acronym to ensure their businesses remain relevant in the global landscape. From a perspective of environmental sustainability, we have an obligation to the planet and to the communities we serve to aggressively pursue NetZero to support current and future generations.

“At QuadReal, we have an extremely robust ESG team that the technology team I lead is tightly aligned with to allow us to realize these goals.”

The impact that technology has on ESG in the real estate industry is “critical”, said Lambrinos. “Whether we’re using automation to better optimize building systems, integrating various IoT sensors to provide on-demand services, or correlating typically disparate data sets to better inform decision-making – data and technology are a key element in sustainability and the pursuit of NetZero.