The past year has brought many ups and downs as the world tried to get back to normal, from the lifting of building restrictions to the introduction of new virus variants. With these challenges came the creation of innovative new solutions to help both people and businesses adapt to the new world, especially in the buildings we occupy. These solutions are not only being implemented to combat the challenges caused by the pandemic, but also to positively impact the well-being of the occupants. As people continue to occupy buildings in this new environment, we are likely to see the following five construction technology trends this year.
Indoor air quality becomes a focus
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting effect on the way people view indoor environments. In fact, a recent Honeywell study found that 87% of workers reported high concern about working in office buildings, and 62% would quit their job if their employer didn’t take steps to create an interior space that prioritizes well-being of the employees. As employees return to their offices, experts report on indoor air quality (IAQ) and encourage them to learn more about it. Building owners, employers, and integrators will need more resources to control HVAC systems to enable better ventilation and filtration to promote healthier conditions, and to monitor IAQ, occupancy levels, and energy use. Building improvements will be integral to maintaining employee satisfaction, as this new technology will not only promote occupant safety, but also foster sustainability.
AI-powered technology helps with sustainability goals
Sustainability is no longer just a trend, but a vital aspect of survival for companies. Companies must find new ways to perform daily tasks while meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Part of this transition includes measuring progress toward sustainability, which is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. Committing to being carbon neutral requires monitoring buildings, vehicles and other aspects that contribute to carbon footprints so that companies can begin to minimize them. AI-powered technologies can effectively detect energy emission reductions as well as air quality and pollution levels. AI integration into buildings for this purpose will soon become standard. In fact, the use of AI is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16% and improve energy efficiency by 15% in the next three to five years, according to the Capgemini Research Institute.
Cybersecurity resilience of operational technology grows
With remote working, the rise of smart devices and cloud storage, and the popularity of networking systems, buildings are experiencing more security threats. A strong cyber posture is needed not only for information technology (IT) systems, but also for a building’s operational technology (OT) as IoT cyberattacks continue to increase. Threats are becoming more sophisticated, making them more difficult to avoid. This year, understanding how to prevent attacks and knowing what to do if one occurs will be a critical skill for building owners and facility managers alike.
Work environments will need smart building technology
According to a PwC survey, 33% of business executives said they plan to implement a mix of in-person, hybrid and remote work environments; 19% plan to work in person; 18% are going all hybrid; and another 18% plan to mix face-to-face and hybrid settings. As companies search for the best solution, working conditions and environments will have to adapt. Flexibility has become increasingly important for workers. Whether it’s personal spaces, collaborative meeting spaces, or quiet areas, building managers and employers are adjusting offices to create modern, hybrid workspaces. Smart building technology to control HVAC, lighting and energy use, among other systems, can make buildings more effective and comfortable work environments.
Increased quality and quantity of smart buildings
In 2021, the US Congress and President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The law allocates $550 billion in spending to improve roads, bridges, and public transportation. It also grants financing to sustainability and clean energy projects for infrastructure. This will help create opportunities for smarter, more sustainable cities, as well as help communities build energy equity and resilience.
As new needs arise in everyday working life, companies must continue to improve their buildings with technologies such as AI, security systems or IAQ solutions. These technologies will not only provide a healthier and safer environment, but also a more sustainable future.
For additional content by and about Honeywell Building Technologies, see Commercial Integrator website files.