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Financing smart buildings – creating value in the new normal


COVID-19 has caused a crisis for building owners and owners in the public and private sectors. Models of work and public service are clearly changing as a result of the crisis and its consequences. Thus, the way in which we use public and commercial interior spaces has been profoundly changed, highlighting the need to optimize the hygiene, safety and energy efficiency of buildings.

In the case of education, facilities have long played a central role in supporting studies and research, but lately a combined on-site and home-based approach has been taken to tackle the challenges of the crisis. Making buildings smart allows for this flexibility, whether it’s in terms of hot-desking, agile use changes, safety and security, or the enhanced ability to transform in volatile circumstances.

Effective and efficient construction capacities

There is a “perfect storm” of factors that combine to simultaneously drive change and make buildings smart. First, the economic pressures resulting from the pandemic are focusing minds on ways to reduce the costs of building management (especially through energy efficiency). At the same time, COVID-19 introduced new rules and working methods to ensure hygiene, infection control and safety in buildings. Along with these topical pressures, there are existing and emerging regulatory requirements that make fire and safety upgrades mandatory. And various policies around the world are setting targets for achieving higher environmental standards in buildings.

Smart buildings deploy automated and digitized technology to enable more efficient and effective building capabilities and management. Data generated by IoT (Internet of Things) sensors provides real-time information for rapid reactions. Smart technology helps transform the building from a financial burden to an active partner – a new team member – in running a business or public sector organization and in dealing with the ‘new normal’ “.

Added value

This whole new perspective prompts building owners and managers to reexamine the underlying operating cost base of their assets. The added value offered by smart buildings is already widely recognized by expert commentators. According to the European Commission Report on Macroeconomic and Other Benefits of Energy Efficiency, a smarter, more efficient building can add up to 11.8% in rental value and can ultimately yield 5-35% more sales value. high.

In educational campuses around the world, smart buildings have already improved understanding and the ability to concentrate. Now they manage the occupancy of space and the safety of students and staff. By improving various factors such as temperature, air quality and lighting, smart buildings will not only know what the ideal learning conditions are, but will automatically adjust the teaching environment to create the perfect place. to learn.

“By improving various factors such as temperature, air quality and lighting, smart buildings will not only know what the ideal learning conditions are, but will automatically adjust the teaching environment to create the place. ideal for learning “

While there is a broad consensus on the need to make buildings smart, all countries and sectors need a way to make this conversion financially sustainable. How can this be done?

The starting point is to use smart technology to reduce energy consumption in buildings. This produces significant financial savings which, through smart financing arrangements, can be harnessed to subsidize or even pay for the overall conversion of smart buildings. This can be done at the enterprise level, or in small incremental steps, each of which proves its return on investment.

Energy savings

For whole building and multi-building projects, no-budget programs are available from specialist financiers to enable the conversion. They are increasingly known as “Building Efficiency as a Service” (BEaaS) agreements. The integrated solutions provider introduces technology and systems to create smart buildings that deliver a clearly predictable level of energy savings. The reduction in energy costs is then used to effectively finance the cost of the conversion.

Everywhere, the building owner kept his own funds for strategically important development activities – whether it was business growth or improving public services. In the post-pandemic period, when cash reserves have been depleted and incomes are declining, the idea of ​​self-financing the conversion of smart buildings becomes even more compelling than before the crisis.

The latest backgrounder from Siemens Financial Services (SFS) establishes the urgency and value of converting smart buildings, along with the mandatory factors that focus attention on converting existing buildings to greater energy efficiency.

In an age when building owners and managers need to invest in measures to make their buildings safe and livable, and are also limited on occupancy density, it can be argued that only smart buildings will present a proposition attractive enough to potential tenants and occupants. In a tight budget environment, energy efficiency savings are increasingly seen as the ideal starting point for the transformation of smart buildings (either as a one-time investment or as a series of incremental projects), smart financing techniques playing a major role in allowing these future savings to finance the conversion costs.

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