Smart buildings: a world to win

Let’s talk about smart buildings... Smart cities usually are about energygrids, self-operating electric cars and online tools, with numerous appealing examples. Buildings are rarely mentioned. I think that real estate when it comes to being smart, stays behind. Of course there are solar panels and LED-lightning. That is contemporary technology,...

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Let’s talk about smart buildings… Smart cities usually are about energygrids, self-operating electric cars and online tools, with numerous appealing examples. Buildings are rarely mentioned. I think that real estate when it comes to being smart, stays behind. Of course there are solar panels and LED-lightning. That is contemporary technology, but not smart in my view. Smart is when you connect technology to the user, to constitute awareness and new behavior.

When it comes to buildings and sustainability there’s a world to win: two third (66%) of the entire energy consumption in the Netherlands is related to buildings. That’s 31% industry, 16% office buildings and 19% residential buildings. When we find a way to decrease this, that would be a great win. Time seems right for this: new possibilities with mobile operating systems like iOs (Apple) and Android (ie Samsung, LG) are here. Everyone with a smart phone or tablet is able to operate home devices on the road: central heating, (LED) lightning, washing machine and even your coffeemaker!

1503 actors ENG 500pxI think we entering an era with smarter buildings and smarted use of those buildings. Quite like your subconscious they start to think with you. Electricity consumption and especially climate control can be much more efficient. This is where I see chances: new technology can be used to update (older) buildings, and even make them energy neutral. Perhaps we can even reverse the increase of energy consumption. Between 1990 and 2011 the increase was 62% (source: IEA – International Energy Agency). We can do better than that!

This is my main focus in my PhD research (University of Amsterdam): I want to know whether we can and want to change. I will concentrate on underlying reasons why we do or do not use new technology. Do we want smart buildings? Can we produce them? For answers, I take a look at both users and suppliers and decision makers. Where do the concerns of these three subjects meet, and where do they part?

I focus specifically on post-war housing in the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam (MRA). In The Netherlands, post-war housing contains about 75% of all housing and currently the housing associations are exploring the possibilities to make these types of housing more up-to-date and more exploitable for themselves. In the MRA 36% (one-third) of the residential buildings are exploited by housing associations. Furthermore, over 50% are stacked (multi-family-homes). The city of Amsterdam is the core center of this region, here is nearly one of two homes (46%) exploited by housing associations and nearly 9 of 10 homes (88%) are stacked. The challenge to modernize these multi-family-homes is huge.

Regarding the aspects of ‘being able to’ (can we?) I look at the objective values, while regarding the propensity of ‘willing to’ (do we want to?) I take more subjective values into account. The model below is the basis of my research.

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If you are curious about my findings, I will make sure I frequently share my opinions and results. Also on this platform, that you are now visiting. If you feel you can contribute, then please let me know and I will contact you. You can also email me at: kees@pluraal.nl

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