2023: The future of PropTech in decarbonising the built environment

2023: The future of PropTech in decarbonising the built environment

At the start of a new year, businesses usually consider the big decisions about how they will run, maintain, and enhance their operations for the year ahead. But this year, many businesses will have bigger and far more crucial decisions than ever before to make. 

With the ongoing economic crisis and high energy prices, many businesses have already been faced with the dilemma of whether or not they can continue to run and to what extent purse strings will need to be tightened. 

When investing for the long-term, money-saving tools might seem like just another outgoing that some businesses may struggle to afford, but several PropTech solutions could help UK businesses deliver on their net-zero targets, whilst also reducing energy costs. 

The growth of PropTech

Understanding the way buildings run and how their energy is used is crucial in the effort to decarbonise the built environment. From installing solar panels to reducing simultaneous heating and cooling and fitting automated lighting, there are numerous ways that buildings can save energy – particularly in commercial offices that might not be used to full capacity every day.

One of the most effective ways for businesses to harness the power of PropTech is by applying data technology to their buildings. In 2020, 38% of UK PropTech companies were working in the commercial property sector – a number that will have likely risen exponentially in the face of increasing economic challenges and investment in these solutions. 

In 2021, investment in the cleantech sector hit record highs, showing that concern about the climate crisis remains a priority. These notions also suggest that businesses and the government are welcoming the idea that sustainable technology is the present, not just the future, and is something to be harnessed rather than feared or dismissed.

As many business leaders and politicians already know, green tech and PropTech isn’t just an important element in the fight against climate change; it’s also essential for boosting the UK economy. In November 2022, International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “Now is the time to future-proof our economy by investing in cutting-edge green technology, protecting our long-term energy security and creating thousands of jobs in industries of the future.”

This was followed by a government investment, which was announced in the autumn statement. It stated that “[green technology] will be supported through measures to reduce unnecessary regulation and boost innovation and growth.” This included further plans to invest in and support green industries as a key growth sector.

Reducing impact throughout a building’s lifecycle  

The built environment is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, and with the use of green technologies this sector could drastically improve and reduce its impact. A report by venture capital firm A/O PropTech found that the future of green construction technology has the potential to be so effective, it could decarbonise the built world altogether.

When we talk about the reducing impact of a building, many of us think of the adaptations that can be made for a building to be more carbon efficient during its operation. However, truly effective decarbonisation in the built environment needs to focus more widely on the building’s entire lifecycle, from the transportation of materials, to the construction process, and then the operational lifetime.

Another benefit of PropTech when it comes to reducing the impact of a building throughout its lifecycle is that it can help to close the performance gap between the design and operation of a building. A study known as PROBE (Post Occupancy Review of Buildings and their Engineering), which looked at 23 buildings considered to be ‘exemplar designs’, between 1995 and 2002, found that actual energy usage in buildings often proved to be twice as much as predicted, with more recent studies suggesting this number could be as much as 5-10 times higher than expected. In addition, recent reports suggest that there is also a knowledge gap with regard to data analytics which means building teams are less likely to address suboptimal operations through building insights. This implies that more education around the need for these solutions might be needed.  

Ultimately, the design of these buildings looked promising, but the reality was less so. With PropTech, buildings can take control of their energy usage and make efforts to keep it closely in line with their targets from the start. 

How we’re helping the built environment 

Last year, Demand Logic was proud to help even more partners reduce their energy usage by helping identify savings opportunities equivalent to over 90,000 tonnes of CO2e and improve indoor air quality. We’ve become a WiredScore accredited solution and have been shortlisted for the CIBSE Building Performance Awards 2023. 

As well as continuing to improve and enhance our technology, we’ve been growing our team to help meet the increased demand and appetite for PropTech solutions, which is only growing as more businesses understand the need to lower emissions in the built environment. Want to know more about Demand Logic, how it works, and how it could benefit your building? Get in touch today.

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024