Jitesh Patel, better known as JP, is the CEO of office design specialists Peldon Rose. Under JP’s guidance, the company has become synonymous with design in the commercial sector, creating bespoke spaces for some of the UK’s biggest names – including Pret, Heineken and The White Company. JP has also championed the positive culture at Peldon Rose, putting employees first and priding itself on being a truly open and honest workplace.

How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?

Even though I had trained as an accountant, I always had a passion for property development and oversaw personal property developments in my spare time. It was on these developments that I really began to take an interest in the way people interact with a building – be it at work or home – and I was always looking at ways to improve the quality of that experience. My first role within property was when I became Financial Director for Peldon Rose 22 years ago, and for the last 12 years, I’ve been CEO.

What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?

Environment and space have a significant impact on our wellbeing and smart technology plays a huge role in creating spaces that enhance experience. From a commercial perspective, a well-designed, smart office building can significantly improve the quality of a worker’s day – from helping to drive company culture through to improvements in health and wellbeing. This in turn, can help to improve employees’ performance and productivity, which then improves the efficiencies of a business.

Ongoing developments in technology also offer environmental benefits. With sustainability high on many of our clients’ agendas, at Peldon Rose we regularly look at how smart systems can measure environmental performance, as well as how we can use the technology to improve sustainability in areas such as heat recovery and sensor lights.

Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of?

Smart sensors are now a regular fixture, offering contactless entry to many buildings. Using Bluetooth technology, these sensors are replacing access cards to instead allow total access control through a remote device.

With new social distancing guidelines in places, many landlords and facilities managers are now also installing smart technology to monitor the use of space. Through smart applications we can now use technology to check how many people are in the building, if desks and rooms are free and even if there are parking spaces available - this data can then not only help businesses adhere to new guidance but also help to boost efficiency and maximise their space.

The use of AI in commercial buildings is also increasing in popularity. Not only can this be used for thermal temperature recognition, but it is quickly becoming a way of introducing facial recognition checks, which guarantees the security of a building without the need for slower, human-led security checks.

Some companies are even beginning to provide their employees with smart tech that can increase their wellbeing. Through the use of wearables that link up to smart technology within the office, this means that we’re now able to monitor how much time staff are spending sedentary – a factor that would normally go unnoticed but is important for reducing the risk of health problems brought on by an inactive lifestyle.

What services does your organisation offer?

As complete workplace consultants, at Peldon Rose we offer all the services a client may need under one roof – from landlord services, design and project delivery, through to the mechanical and electrical services, occupier experience and maintenance. Our industry experts can assist with all aspects of a project, including offering informed advice on the latest smart technology. Many of our projects now include the integration of technology to enhance user experience, especially in the light of the global pandemic, and recent projects have included features such as touch-free access control, environmental monitoring, eye scanning and fingerprint recognition.

Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?

COVID-19 will lead to a change in how people use and view buildings, and consequently the regulations surrounding them. Prior to the pandemic, some of the most significant issues were privacy, GDPR and data collection, whereas concerns are now changing to focus on contactless technology and monitoring utilisation data within buildings.

Regulations contained in Part ‘L’ of the building regulations have already made huge inroads to improving the efficiency of buildings using smart technology, such as sensors to turn building lighting systems on and off. The regulations are due a refresh in the next 2 years, and there has been discussion regarding the introduction of Building Monitoring Systems to further improve the efficiency of buildings. There has also been some discussion regarding linking council tax and business rates to building performance; such changes will only lead to more smart building technology to comply with regulations.

What are the benefits of a smart building? 

As technology continues to advance and the applications continue to grow, there are many benefits to smart buildings, especially when it comes to commercial projects. The technology can enhance everything from employee wellbeing to health and safety and even boost energy efficiency and the environmental footprint of a business.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

Andrew Yates, the founder of Peldon Rose. He enabled me to move from accountancy to the heart of real estate – teaching me the value of people, building connections and that the key to productivity in the workforce is found through listening to their needs when looking at office design.

What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?

At the moment, I’d say these three come out on top:

  1. When is this all going to end….?!
  2. How do you just keep going?
  3. How do you always remain positive in business?

What are the best/worst things about your job?

The best thing about my role is working in an innovative and creative sector, as it means we get to push the boundaries of what is possible, and the results are tangible and inspiring. However, the worst aspect of working in construction is that despite all of the planning and organisation, there can always be unexpected changes to projects and plans.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

When it comes to operating as workplace consultants, user experience is key and you need to understand the behaviour behind the people that are going to use the building as much as the thinking behind the construction and technology itself.

To create a space with optimal user experience, you need to be able to have insight into your clients’ needs and have the knowledge and experience of the latest technology and design innovations to make this a reality. Behavioural science is something that is so key when it comes to creating commercial spaces, and is often overlooked.

What living person do you admire and why?

James Dyson – as he uses design and technology to make peoples’ lives easier – which corresponds with our philosophy at Peldon Rose. Like Dyson, our mindset is aspirational as we know that we can improve peoples’ lives through design and technology. It’s also why we name our rooms after British inventors, and why we’ve called one of our spaces the ‘Dyson’ room.

Where would you most like to live?

I am fortunate that I already live where I would most like to live - which is London! However, my dream would be to live in a mews house in the centre.

What is your favourite book?

The Maverick, by Ricardo Semler.

How do you relax?

I like to spend winter and summer in the alps – hiking, biking and skiing. I also enjoy reading, learning to play the sax, doing DIY and I have recently also taken up making technical Lego models.

What sports team do you support?

I am not a sports man usually, but I do follow our national teams in any sporting occasion.

What is on your desert island discs?

  • Bollywood
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Road of the gypsy
  • Queen
  • Dexys Midnight Runners

What is your ideal holiday?

Anything adventurous and activity-based! Any activity with an ‘ing’ – so a holiday packed with things to do!