BSRIA launches white paper on future building trends, impacts and solutions

BSRIA is delighted to have launched its White Paper on ‘Future Building Trends – Impacts – Solutions’, specifically asking: what do you think are the biggest, most relevant changes in buildings now and over the next 10 years?; what will be the impact on our industry?; and what products and services will be required in the future?

Although there were a small number of participants from Europe and Asia, the majority were from North American organisations, so it can be assumed that the findings presented in the next chapter, have a North American slant or bias.

The paper examined: how buildings can improve productivity and wellbeing – touching on all aspects of building design, construction, use, and maintenance. Also, the relationship of buildings with their immediate environment as well as their connection to the wider world.

It considered: the changing landscape around the design and use of buildings, their evolution, and to uncover how the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and building controls industry should be shaped in future in order to best respond to client. It was written by Jeremy Towler, Senior Manager, Energy & Smart Technologies, BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence.

What do you think are the biggest, most relevant changes in buildings now and over the next 10 years?
In relation to drivers and trends – green construction and sustainability of construction will increasingly affect the planning and design of buildings within the next few years. While green design will be easiest to implement for new construction, it is the retrofit and refurbishment of 4.6 million existing buildings that represents the biggest challenge, the most pressing need and the biggest market potential.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said:

“Buildings that adapt to people (rather than the other way around) will be a major evolution and will lead to more productive environments, a higher level of satisfaction and comfort for occupants and the ability, for example, to avoid conditioning unoccupied spaces.

The advance of the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major trend in building management. A growing abundance of data will lead to new services and solutions; however there is a risk that the speed of change may create uncertainty – which can lead to hesitation and false starts.

There is a trend towards home-working which will cause a reduction in the demand for commercial building space. More remote working and desk sharing to accommodate the way people will work in the future will result in the need for more flexible work space and an increase in the occupied density of commercial buildings.”

What will be the impact on the HVAC equipment and controls industry?
New challenges will undoubtedly appear, not least the need to understand how new building designs work and to understand the challenge of more complex building systems. There is a need for smarter, integrated construction practices and the industry needs to develop new partnership ecosystems to address this.

Regarding new technologies – there will be increased uptake of building data capture, energy data analytics and an increasing proportion of applications going to the “cloud”. The trend toward equipment suppliers offering smart products is expected to increase rapidly with eventually most products connected to, or residing in, the “cloud”, but it may be akin to a “Betamax vs VHS” war between suppliers, software houses; different systems and solutions – until winners emerge and the market eventually settles down.

There is a growing need for devices to be interconnected and converged on to common platforms and networks. This is driving demand for new skills, particularly in the area of IT and communications. Cybersecurity needs to be improved and has moved rapidly up the agenda. It represents both a threat to development of the building controls industry and a new business opportunity.

What products and services will be required in the future?
Julia added:

“With increasingly complex buildings and the use of more technology to run them more efficiently, the whole service and maintenance of buildings could change and a new type of company evolve. The whole life cycle cost approach will become more popular. Building controls suppliers must have professional knowledge and competency in energy management, being able to predict building energy expense and remove risk.

Smart technology, in the form of self-learning and self-diagnosing products is emerging as well software based analytics, all of which are setting the industry on the path towards increasing artificial intelligence and new business opportunities.

Clearly, there is a lot changing in this industry and “the players” need to be aware of this and decide how they will respond. They need to evolve, move up the value chain, embrace new technologies, develop the necessary processes, and build the necessary skills.”

The paper was developed for BSRIA’s Diamond Group Forum NAM 1/2015 in a parallel to the AHR Expo in Chicago in January 2015. BSRIA’s Diamond Group consists of a BSRIA network of senior executives.