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Published 21 October 2019
Over the last year or two, we have seen a rise in both the volatility and frequency of extreme weather events. Last year, Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg made headlines by organising school strikes, which are now an international movement of students who boycott classes to participate in demonstrations to demand action against global warming and climate change.
When people think about climate change, images of heavily polluted skies above major cities or of sea turtles swimming amongst plastic bottles often come to mind. But with the public now increasingly aware of the impact human activity has on the environment, more emphasis is being placed on the sustainability of the built environment.
Distinguished from the natural world, the built environment refers to the human-made environments that provide the setting for the activities of everyday life. The Centre for Digital Built Britain defines the built environment as all forms of buildings (residential and commercial), all economic infrastructure (above and below ground) and the urban space and landscape between and around buildings and infrastructure.
Undeniably, the ways in which we build and engage with our offices and homes can have a huge impact on the climate and natural ecosystems. Consider, for example, the information and communications technology (ICT) industries. While cloud computing data centres do not have billowing smoke stacks, they do use tremendous amounts of energy as they keep their servers cool enough for operations. As noted in an article for Nature magazine, ICT companies — which include manufacturers of digital devices and televisions, as well as internet services and cloud platforms — account for more than 2% of global emissions. This carbon footprint from ICT is equal to that of the aviation industry’s emissions from fuel.
But although society’s appetite for newer, better technology is driving increased output, technology can also help make our built environments healthier and more eco-friendly. Here are just some of the ways in which PropTech activity can help us address our sustainability and conservation goals:
The above are just some of the ways in which the property market can embrace technology to address the environmental and ecological impact of the built environment. In addition to being good for the planet, the social pressure to create “smart buildings” can provide a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs, technology companies, and real estate developers alike.
Of course, success for the sellers and buyers of PropTech means addressing a new set of challenges and understanding complex dynamics and considerations. DAC Beachcroft’s PropTech Team brings a wide ranging service that embraces the many varied aspects of this sector and helps manage the response to change. At the heart of this is a nationwide team of real estate and technology experts that can address the risks arising in this rapidly changing environment.
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