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The Built Environment 2023 Trends and Activities

By Marc Petock

What a difference a year makes. It is hard to recognize the built environment of today. The pandemic combined with the new demands from the business side of managing buildings has rewritten the rules, and now, the industry is once again going through a transformational time. Suffice to say that managing and operating buildings is much harder today than it was last year. And the hardest task of all for owners and operators is to incorporate an approach that includes resiliency and risk mitigation combined with deciding what needs to be done now and what can wait.

Furthermore, the current economic conditions are not driving owners and operators to curtail their building technology investments. I am seeing an increase in conversations and projects that I expect to accelerate in 2023 as both owners and occupants come to terms with the smarter built environment. 2023 should be looked at as the year for “The RESHAPE”.

So, what will matter most?

It cannot be defined by one thing. It is a combination of things. It is the convergence of OT, IT, and WP. It is IP and the Edge playing a significant shift in the building operating architecture and the way we are connecting, acquiring information, interacting with it, and making decisions. It is data-driven decision intelligence to reduce the huge costs of wasted opportunities. It is cybersecurity– moving from solely focusing on prevention and perimeter defenses to resilience and enhancing the ability to withstand an attack(s). It is conforming to a new workplace model and a new experience. It is the realization of the importance of building systems and equipment interoperability along with their data, not just integration. It is incorporating a more aggressive approach to ESG, sustainability, and de-carbonization, with inaction no longer optional.

And if this is not enough, balancing all of this, is the need for efficiencies, flexibility, agility, reliability, reduced complexity, and time to value creation, and the need to do more with less.

Let’s look a little further at a few of these items.

Workplace Environment-Hybrid is here to stay. COVID is no longer the chief concern for tenants/occupants, flexibility is. Quality office space is not enough; it is about attractive spaces that are commute worthy and deliver enhanced experience and socialization. Occupants also care about sustainability and want visibility into how the building is addressing and contributing to it.

Data-Organizations will increasingly realize that data-driven insights and improved data interoperability across a non-siloed OT environment will help deliver business value through more efficient and sustainable ways of operating and managing their buildings.

IP and the Edge-The built environment has become hyper-distributed, with the use of IP and the edge playing a significant shift in the way we are connecting, controlling, acquiring information, interacting with it, and make decisions. Together, they are enabling us to flatten the topology of the traditional building control architecture and create a horizontal IP architecture. This enables us to expand our reach to a new range of equipment, devices, and applications providing relevant outcomes for operating and managing buildings.

Cybersecurity– remains as important as ever and should be part of ongoing discussions and actions. Specifically, moving solely from focusing on prevention and perimeter defenses to resilience and enhancing the ability to withstand an attack. Organizations today, need to recognize that attacks are inevitable and need to be prepared for and able to rapidly recover from incidents, as well as maintain continuity during and after an incident. Today’s cyber initiatives need to include the implementation of zero-trust architectures and a “never trust, always verify” approach.

ESG is playing an influential role across all businesses globally, including the built environment. It is no longer a buzzword—it is a business practice that’s driving industry-wide strategy and decisions. Adopting ESG principles has become more pressing today with many building owners and operators making it a priority to invest in this effort. These initiatives are resulting in a re-engagement in energy efficiency, carbon reduction, net-zero targets, water conversation, and more.

Convergence of IT, OT, and WP– While we have been experiencing more IT and OT converging to operate and manage buildings, we now must consider the WorkPlace/experience side, (occupancy, air quality, space utilization, etc.). Convergence of IT, OT, and WP is evolving into the building operating technology stack. The traditional operational environment now connects and integrates with the physical workplace environment.

For the built environment in 2023, the challenge is not the need–it is here; it is not the technology or solutions—they are here, and proven—but rather, it is the willingness and preparation to take advantage of them. It is the understanding of the insights and outcomes that RESHAPE buildings to make them smarter.