John Osborn, managing director of Mill Group Solutions (previously fund manager of the £3.5bn Aviva Linked Property Fund) has some thoughts on connecting smart buildings technologies with real estate stakeholders.

It is apparent that the level of adoption and appreciation of the full potential of smart buildings solutions varies significantly across institutional real estate investors. That is perhaps no surprise given how fast the solutions have evolved. Solutions that were state of the art a couple of years ago can be behind the times now.

As asset owners begin to recognise the potential uses and value of real-time occupancy data, they are increasingly demanding more of their smart buildings applications. The application of this data can cover energy efficiency (increasingly important for investors to meet Net Zero commitments, including the more challenging Scope 3 emissions), operational efficiencies (predictive maintenance, predictive cleaning, fire safety to name a few), air quality and wellness (increasingly important for all occupiers in a covid or post-covid environment) and asset management insights.

US REITs are further ahead in using real-time occupancy data to inform lease renewal negotiations and hold / sell decisions.

In this context, providers are challenged with evolving solutions and dashboards to meet these increasing demands and expectations. The nature of the source data is a key factor behind the ability to be able to efficiently adapt: accuracy and richness of the data, whether it is real-time data, how secure the data is and whether it is truly anonymous (GDPR issues can be a factor).

What is clear is that investors who keep pace with smart buildings solutions will be best placed to meet the greater expectations of occupiers, to meet challenging sustainability targets and to achieve total return outperformance.