The digital revolution that is happening in almost all areas of business and personal life, is impacting our real estate and construction sectors as much as any other sector. Whether you are an owner or occupier, funder or investor, builder, developer or a technology provider, the built environment offers real opportunities for the forward thinking.

If our parents’ generation were digital aliens, most of us today are digital converts. But the millennial generation within our organisations - the so called generations Y and Z - are all digital natives. We have explored through research, the buildings that they will want to inhabit in the context of their working lives. The very terminology of the workplace will change. Work is no longer one place, it is potentially everywhere. As a consequence, buildings may be changing but so are the commercial real estate models that finance, design, build, let, manage and redevelop buildings.

Digital advances are driving a new reality in commercial real estate

Our report, ‘The New Real: Unlocking new gains through smart buildings’, shows the commercial and organisational gains to be made by understanding what is happening, planning for it, and recognising the opportunities for outperforming your competitors in the ‘New Real’ environment as it increasingly manifests itself. This all from the earliest stages of building design and inception, to occupancy and use, through to building repurposing and recycling.

There are significant gains to be made from smart buildings over the next five years

With the smart buildings debate now moving into the boardroom, our research shows that of those surveyed:

• 56% of those surveyed think smart buildings will open up new revenue streams

• 59% think smart buildings will deliver business gains beyond energy efficiency

• 38%, a large minority, are already taking the lead, stealing a march on others, changing their behaviours and acquiring new capabilities to benefit from smart buildings.

Legal and commercial challenges to a smart building revolution in Britain

We have identified four main areas of focus to ensure we unlock the gains to be made from the smart building revolution:

Firstly on valuations and leasing, the commerciality of smart buildings needs greater clarity as we quantify the benefits of smart buildings. Secondly new collaborations will need to be forged as developers seek partnerships with the tech industry. Thirdly we risk building obsolescence unless buildings are upgraded to suit occupiers’ technological demands, and changes are made in the construction process for new buildings. Finally, managing data privacy and cyber security is a significant risk.

You can download the full report at

Charles Russell Speechlys

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