Your office building is either part of the problem or the start of a revolution. The choice is yours.

November 23, 2022
Business executives and commercial real estate managers must realize they sit at the convergence between two existential crises — corporate and environmental — and the price of inaction is enormous. On the other hand, the rewards for embracing emerging sustainability strategies that contribute to solving them are also huge. The time is now to transform your workspaces.
This is the first article of our four-part series on revolutionary new strategies and technology in corporate real estate for achieving true Operational Efficiency.

It’s not breaking news that these days companies are scrambling to re-engage employees after Covid accelerated an already changing workforce, nor is it a secret that people everywhere are anxious about or already suffering from the impacts of climate change. What may come as a surprise is how these two critical issues connect in the corporate real estate industry. There are individuals at the executive level, often unknowingly, sitting on a great opportunity to right some major wrongs.

For example, take a look at the following statistics:

  • 85% of corporate employees feel disengaged and increasingly burned out from working longer hours leading to fierce competition for highly skilled workers.1.
    39% of global carbon emissions are generated from the construction and operation of office buildings — at a time when most attention is on energy companies and the international community crosses one red line after another in its struggle to contain the ravages of climate change. Meanwhile, governments are asking citizens to conserve energy as it becomes more and more scarce amidst tense geopolitical backdrops.2.
  • It’s time for corporations to do their part in reversing these trends. This shouldn’t be a hard-sell. Executives or a relatively small group of C-suite stakeholders know very well the internal issues they’re dealing with — from soaring energy costs to balancing the at home/in office Flex work trends.

Unfortunately, these essential individuals are most likely unaware of the true source of their pain points, much less how to alleviate them. Yet the problems and their solutions are right in front of them, often in each room of the office building.

We created this series with the express purpose of revealing how buildings perform and how these stakeholders can take greater control without large investments of time or money. Solutions are readily available, both easy and inexpensive to implement, and provide immediate results. You can achieve significant energy savings (up to 15%!), much reduced rent per FTE and boost employee satisfaction today.

Building problems — from corporate struggles to global dangers

For the moment, let’s examine what these stakeholders know — the immediate pressures for which they are accountable — before tackling what they don’t.

Obviously, they recognize the dramatic changes to work demanded by a new generation of workers yearning for both independence, richer social interaction through flexible and well-designed workspaces, while also harboring major concerns for the environment and their future. Executives understand all too well that these trends, exacerbated by Covid, can be extremely costly in terms of employee productivity, while also making it difficult in maintaining a competitive recruitment and retention process.

In response, they generally understand the need to:

  • Ensure healthy and safe office spaces
  • Better adapt to Flex work (at home/in office) trends
  • Attract and incentivize employees back to the office
  • Increase employees’ sense of connection to each other and employees

Meanwhile, it goes without saying that relevant stakeholders know they need to better manage their office spaces in order to gain more control over energy consumption and costs. In some cases, this may be mandatory where governments are introducing new environmental regulations to reduce carbon emissions.

So far, most strategies to achieve these goals are woefully inadequate, but not for lack of trying or good intentions. Most of the efforts just generally result in mere cosmetic changes or big talk, as opposed to fundamental or structural change with measurable ROI. How can companies truly get a grip on their building and office environments — without spending massive amounts of time or money — if they don’t understand what’s really happening within their walls, much less begin to realize their impact on the wider world?

The importance of Operational Efficiency

As we have alluded to so far, it’s high time for corporate real estate and managers to be made aware of actual building and office performance, or what we could even call behavior. To understand this, we at EDGE Next have developed a framework and technology that leads to true Operational Efficiency.

We define Operational Efficiency as demonstrably improving building and office space functionality, their environments, alongside employee wellbeing by eliciting actionable data throughout all spaces.

Furthermore, there are three main areas — or pillars — that make up Operational Efficiency.

The Three Pillars of Operational Efficiency

Understanding where your offices and buildings are incurring unnecessary costs in terms of energy and other utility consumption can lead to 10-30% in energy savings.

Understanding how to significantly improve the ability to leverage excess building space and equipment, also reducing costs, especially during non-working hours.

Understanding how factors such as air quality, cleanliness, direct sunlight and other building and workspace factors contribute to employee psychology and overall productivity.

Granted, some stakeholders might be aware of some of the factors within these pillars, but we have observed that most need to understand that achieving true Operational Efficiency demands taking a holistic approach. Merely focusing on one or two pillars, such as energy savings or air ventilation, will not be enough to adequately respond to the entire company’s problems. Having said that, it is quite possible to start with one pillar and expand to the others step-by-step, grabbing lowest-hanging fruit at the outset.

So, what does this all mean for a building and what is actually to be done? In short, to achieve our goals, we must turn to innovative Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that can provide us with actionable data.

Making buildings smarter through actionable data

The measurable ROI that can be achieved when using a holistic approach to Operational Efficiency with actionable data is mindblowing. For instance, 10-30% of energy savings can be achieved with no changes to your team or technology. And, with 10% of space optimization a reduced rent per FTE of €49,-/sqm/a can be reached.3.

These results quickly add up to significant savings and a reduced carbon footprint for any building — two outcomes that cover much of the Energy and Occupancy pillars of Operational Efficiency. But what about Wellbeing?

As mentioned, it has been proven (certainly during Covid) that factors such as air quality and sanitary conditions have a direct impact on employees’ sense of comfort and, along with employee demands for flexible work conditions, all clearly link to productivity.

Real-time data can be extracted around the office to enable HR to address and respond to workforce issues at a moment’s notice. To retrieve the necessary actionable data and achieve such unprecedented results, we must integrate the latest in Smart Building technologies.

Smart solutions and building transformation

Getting the right data essentially requires installing a wide array of IoT sensors and devices throughout the building which is then connected via a secure private network to a platform. This platform is integrated into a company’s BMS, where the data is presented within context in an intuitive dashboard.

It’s in this context where our own full-service Smart Building solution was born. Our parent company EDGE, a leader in sustainable real estate development, whose portfolio and Net Zero initiative are dedicated to putting people and the planet first by building a zero carbon world, understood the need and had the opportunity to deliver the right technologies to the right areas.

EDGE Next was created to enable customers to intuitively monitor, control and analyze building infrastructure, conditions, spaces and equipment. By leveraging over 20 years of experience in innovating office spaces, we have developed a single platform across the three pillars to achieve maximum Operational Efficiency.

A Smart solution, such as this, must be implementable within any building — old or new. Otherwise, it would be useless for most companies and unable to address a large portion of the buildings today.

We strive to connect both employers and employees with data with the following approach:

  • Easy-to-install and use-SaaS platform
  • Ability to integrate to almost any customer BMS
  • Provides real time data and predictive modeling for energy usage forecasts
  • Minimum new hardware and bring-your-own-device approach
  • Office signage to engage employees with data
  • Employee Experience app

From planning phases to hardware deployment and platform onboarding, EDGE Next sets you on your way to Operational Efficiency within weeks.

Stay tuned for the next articles in our series. We’ll be deep diving into how companies can get even more actionable insights through data within the three pillars of Energy, Occupancy and Wellbeing.
The EDGE Next Mission

For over 25 years, our parent company EDGE, a leader in sustainable real estate development, whose portfolio and Net Zero initiative are dedicated to putting people and the planet first by building a zero carbon world, have understood the need and opportunity to deliver the right technologies to the right areas. Thus, EDGE Next’s Smart Building Solution was born.

We believe that every relevant stakeholder at the top of executive management — CFOs, portfolio managers, facility managers, HR, etc. — has the power to act. Once we realize how our building spaces are performing, we can trigger initiatives that improve all aspects under the banner of “Operational Efficiency” — for the sake of our companies, global business and humanity itself.

To facilitate such a new and innovative process, we have given extensive thought into how customers can both understand and onboard the technology as easily, clearly, and seamlessly as possible. We strive to help our stakeholders realize that there are absolutely zero reasons to delay trying out the solution as there are no long-term commitments and actionable data is visible immediately. We’re confident that once you see the quick results, a whole new world of building and office management opportunities will reveal itself.

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