Buildings are the cornerstone of modern smart cities, and in this digital economy a new breed of building is emerging. Advances in mobile, cloud-based and IoT technologies are creating huge opportunities for information gathering, sharing, and analytics. This is having a real impact on the way buildings are being run.

In parallel with technological progress, occupants are demanding more control over their workspace. This has been driven by a ‘there’s an app for that’ mentality. Technology is evolving and can help re-invent buildings and people’s experience within them.

In addition to technological advances, key megatrends such as migration, digitalisation and energy consumption are impacting cities and buildings, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Mega migration

Our planet is facing an historic transition as the greatest urban migration of all time marches on. It is expected that 2.5 billion people will migrate to cities by 2050. At a global level, it is the equivalent of building 30 cities the size of Paris every year for the next 30 years.
This migration creates tension for buildings developers and owners, as well as for city planners. Specifically, it drives the need for more energy efficiency and the integration of renewable energy sources, space efficiency and occupant and user comfort, talent attraction and retention alongside more stringent regulations.

Pervasive digitalisation

The growth of data, information and connected devices is exponential. In 2014, there were an estimated 1.7 billion connected devices in buildings worldwide. By 2020, the installed base of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide.

Digitisation will boost market demand for data-gathering devices including sensors and beacons, technology that efficiently gives access to data such as high speed network infrastructure (IP), operational technology (OT) systems that expose their data naturally, and data repositories in the cloud. Artificial Intelligence and analytics will be also in demand in order to sort through data and drive insight and outcomes from this data. And there will be a multiplication of apps for everyone to solve actual pain points for building occupants, owners and facility managers.

Increasing energy consumption

Finally, the world’s electricity consumption will increase by 60 per cent in the next 20 years, and close to 60 per cent of that electricity is used in buildings. At a time when the effects of climate change are high on the global agenda, this will drive increasing need for self-generation and microgrids based on solar power with local storage, source management to be able to manage various energy sources at a building or campus level, more local power management systems to ensure electrical power reliability and a renewed push towards more energy efficiency.

These megatrends are creating a number of challenges for our cities. The stakes are high: will the 2.5 billion people migrating to cities by 2050 enjoy a connected, peaceful, modern lifestyle?

A big part of the answer is to design buildings in a new way so that they use less resources (both in terms of space and energy) and ensure they run at maximum efficiency. Buildings must also meet the growing demand for meaningful connectivity that responds to the individual needs of occupants.
Buildings need to be designed differently in order to stand up to future demands. They are being re-invented with open, innovative technology that allows for greater comfort and productivity for their occupants, enabling facilities manages to deliver the next level of efficiency. Schneider Electric is helping companies do this, ensuring its systems integrators and EcoXpert partners win and grow through simplified commissioning and integrated systems.