Creating Resilience

Transforming the Built Environment Through Data and Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of real-estate technology, transforming how people and organizations function. And the change has only just begun.

November 11, 2022 5 Minute Read

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In the last few years—spurred in part by the pandemic—we have witnessed a dramatic acceleration in the application and adoption of technology across commercial real estate, along with a major shift in the strategic importance of the built environment. Data and technology are now helping both investors and occupiers to proactively manage core real estate functions, including site selection, workplace experience and ESG.

As data and technology integrate all parts of the value chain, real estate professionals are harnessing new solutions in order to help clients successfully navigate today’s complex and fast-evolving commercial real estate environment. 

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Site Selection: From “location, location, location” to “location intelligence”

Location has always been a  primary factor in real estate decisions, but today, it’s all about “location intelligence.” Data is key, regardless of the real estate product type or goal: a retailer examining macro trends like changes in consumer shopping habits; a tech company looking to understand workforce migrations; or an investor seeking to reduce carbon emissions across their portfolio. Data is also vital for companies looking to understand micro trends, including local dynamics like the demographics of up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Fueled by technology that enables unprecedented access to data, real estate decisions are now increasingly personalized to the unique needs of the client. We have created the ability ingest and analyze information from more than 300 data sources to provide deep insights that help decision makers select locations that meet their individualized needs.

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Workplace Experience: Seamless integration of data and technology is the key to the future of work

Technology is changing how investors and occupiers experience spaces. For example, instead of relying on physical site visits, clients can now tour sites anywhere in the world, without ever leaving their office. Evolving augmented- and virtual-reality (AR/VR) technologies will make these experiences even more immersive in the future—allowing spaces to be dynamically altered and enabling clients to instantly assess different layouts and traffic patterns.

Technology, data and analytics make workplaces of the future possible. CBRE’s recent Occupier Sentiment Survey found that 73% of companies plan to adopt hybrid work. As companies grow their footprints nationally and even globally, distributed workforces are here to stay—but employees continue to need and want connectivity. As such, the most productive workplaces will include spaces and technology that provide this distributed workforce with the ability to collaborate with colleagues both in person and virtually, delivering an elevated employee experience.

No longer reliant on qualitative data and subjective perspectives, companies can now access data from a variety of sources—including sensors, badge swipes and more—to glean specific and detailed insights into when and how people are using their space. This type of data makes it easier to forecast occupancy and traffic patterns and design new and better experiences that make people want to come to the office.

Investors and occupiers can now use workplace experience platforms to enhance employee experiences even further through data. For example, CBRE’s Host technology gives individual employees data they can use to make informed decisions about their workday: who else will be in the office; what spaces are available to support activity-based work and collaboration; and  what amenities are available.

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ESG: No longer a luxury, it’s a necessity

In today’s culture, employee and consumer expectations go well beyond their own personal experience. They also want to know they are making a positive difference in environmental and social equity in all aspects of their lives, including at work. According to the World Green Building Council, buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. When considering both of these factors—the impact of the built environment and the increasing importance of sustainability for today’s talent—the imperative is clear: Real estate and business leaders must focus on reducing carbon emissions and setting net-zero targets.

Reaching sustainability goals requires new thinking from both investors and occupiers. Meaningful impact can’t be made by focusing on a single green building—managing energy and efficiency has to be done at a portfolio scale. This requires having the ability to ingest data from a range of data sources, land it against a consistent data model to generate meaningful insights.

Machine learning models enable teams to perform rapid analysis, make recommendations and implement automated solutions across buildings. This approach enables companies to rapidly onboard new buildings and implement changes that can have a big impact on sustainability and operations at scale. For example, CBRE recently worked with a client to build a portfolio-wide solution across over 25 buildings that reduced energy usage, instances of peak energy and reactive maintenance work orders. Managing their energy use helped the client to make meaningful progress toward their sustainability goals.

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What’s next?

Data and technology have become integral to commercial real estate decision-making and operations, and will continue to evolve. The next era will be marked by more sophisticated data-driven real estate experiences, sourcing and management. As a result, businesses will unlock significant efficiencies in their operations, effectively use space and deliver workplaces that are healthier, more productive and more enjoyable. Perhaps most importantly, they will make a positive impact on the environment and the world.

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