Featuring interviews with international experts from various backgrounds, including real estate developers, property financiers, technology developers, and government officials, it includes several key themes around opportunities from the built environment, which include:

  • The retrofit challenge and opportunity: While it’s easier to integrate smart systems during the construction of new buildings, technology also needs to be implemented in existing buildings if the built environment really is going to be come smarter. The report addresses some of the challenges with refurbishing existing buildings, which even in 2050 will represent over 60% of UK building stock. The section includes insights from the Managing Partner at Pi (Property Innovation) Labs, a property technology venture capital fund, and the Managing Director at Low Carbon Workplace.
  • Making better use of data: Buildings can become smarter by making better use of information that already exists. Improving how we use data can also make collections of buildings, commercial districts or even cities smarter. Included here are interviews with the Chief Technology Officer at NYC Department of Transportation and the Managing Director of MPC Micro Living Development, a developer of student accommodation in Germany.
  • Energy is a real focus: One core aspect of the built environment that is seeing a lot of focus and investment is building energy efficiency. The report addresses the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and looks at how easy is it to integrate buildings into the power system. This section includes interviews with a Fund Manager at CBRE Global Investors and the Managing Partner at EnergyPro who comment on smart technologies that have the potential to be deployed at scale over time.
  • The silo mentality – obstructing innovation: Decision making power often resides in isolated silos, resulting in the safest and least innovative solution being procured. Included in this section are insights from the Managing Director at Redpill Group and Senior Counsel at IBM Australia who address the importance of collaboration.
  • The construction industry – starting to innovate: Construction companies are naturally crucial if the built environment is to become smarter, however the industry as a whole is often slow to innovate. In this section the Managing Partner at Pi (Property Innovation) Labs comments on how construction and real estate companies can become more efficient.

The report also examines case studies that illustrate the changes taking place in the built environment space as new technologies emerge and become commercially viable. These include smarter energy efficiency solutions, building retrofits, granular data gathering, and smarter access control systems.

Written in collaboration with VB Research, the report was launched at a panel event on Thursday, July 14, at Osborne Clarke’s offices in London. The event was chaired by Andrew Tuck, Editor in Chief of Monocle Magazine and host of its radio programme The Urbanist.

This is the third report in a series on the future of the smart city report. Previous reports on the future of urban mobility and on financing the smart city, released, respectively, in April and July 2015.

Simon Beswick, International CEO, Osborne Clarke said:

“As a firm we are deeply interested in the possibilities technology presents to improve our homes, our workplaces and the built environment that surrounds us. Our clients include companies who are working at the forefront of these changes, in technology but also in finance, infrastructure, energy, and transport.

“This latest report, on the smarter built environment, is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the benefits that smarter buildings bring and the obstacles we must overcome if we are to spread these innovations.”

For more information and to download a copy of the ‘Smart Cities: The Future of the Built Environment’ report please click here.

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