4 technology trends driving sustainability in real estate

India’s economy is projected to grow at a rate of 6.5% in FY24, according to the latest Economic Survey (2022-23). This growth is expected to drive up energy demand in the country, particularly as its population is set to reach 1.5 billion by 2030. To ensure sustainability in this changing landscape, the real estate sector must adopt new technologies to make its practices more sustainable, especially as it accounts for 22% of energy demand in India.

Recognizing the growing impact of climate change, and the pioneering role that India can play in this regard, the government has already launched several initiatives to promote sustainable energy. Apart from the National Solar Mission and the Energy Conservation Building Code, India also made commitments towards net zero carbon emissions at the COP26 held in 2022. The real estate industry, accounting for almost 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, has a critical role to play in mitigating climate change. Green buildings and sustainable architecture are the future of real estate, providing promising environmental and economic impact. With technological advancements, there is an opportunity to build a viable future and elevate the well-being of real estate developers.

On National Technology Day, here are top technologies that are changing the present and future of real-estate as we know!

Smart Building Systems

Smart building systems, in particular, are making a significant contribution to sustainability by converging various building-wide systems into one IT-enabled infrastructure using digital technologies. With an estimated global market value of over $500 billion by 2032, the demand for smart buildings is rapidly growing.

Using AI/ML, smart building systems optimize energy consumption by aligning schedules and intelligently predicting approaches. They also monitor building performance and identify impending failures with real-time analysis, making the infrastructure both smart and secure. For example, occupancy sensors may turn off lights and adjust the temperature in unoccupied rooms, reducing energy waste. Additionally, machine learning algorithms can predict and optimize energy usage based on weather patterns, occupancy, and other factors. This is a fast catching up phenomenon in India and several developers are already leveraging this technology.

Renewable energy in vogue

Renewable energy, such as solar power, has become a popular topic in recent years due to its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Moreover, advances in battery technology have made it possible to store renewable energy, enabling buildings to operate entirely on clean energy throughout the year. 

Mumbai is making strides, and a first of its kind solar power plant to cater exclusively to residential society would soon be operational, and is expected to reduce energy costs by 40%! Solar energy is already being explored for part operations in societies such as for operating lifts or lighting in common areas through solar panel roofs, generally of 25KW capacity.

To facilitate transition to renewable energy, frameworks and guidelines such as The Greenhouse Gas Protocol have been developed to assist stakeholders in optimizing energy usage. This protocol also guides developers in adopting strategies such as virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs), green energy credits, net metering, and Green Tariff mechanisms to promote the use of renewable sources of energy.

Green Construction Technologies

As the world becomes increasingly focused on sustainability and combating climate change, technology advancements are playing a critical role in creating eco-friendly construction materials. These advancements span from energy-efficient appliances to geothermal heating systems. One of the most promising eco-friendly materials is cellulose insulation, which is made up of 75-80% recycled material, including newspapers. This insulation material is a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to fiberglass insulation, which is commonly used in buildings today. In addition to reducing waste, cellulose insulation provides superior insulation and soundproofing, making it an attractive option for builders.

Another promising technology is the development of new construction materials that can capture and store carbon dioxide. This innovation could have a significant impact on reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Researchers are experimenting with various materials, such as concrete, that can capture CO2 emissions from industrial processes and store them indefinitely. This process, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the construction industry, which is responsible for approximately 39% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Furthermore, new sustainable construction materials are being developed with renewable resources, such as bamboo, hemp, and mycelium. These materials have a significantly lower carbon footprint than traditional materials like steel and concrete. 

AI powered tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the real estate industry by optimizing building performance, reducing energy consumption, and promoting sustainability. AI-powered energy auditing tools analyze consumption patterns and provide recommendations for energy-efficient upgrades, helping building owners save on costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

AI-driven waste management systems analyze data from sensors to predict waste production patterns and optimize collection schedules, reducing environmental impact and costs. Occupancy optimization tools optimize lighting, HVAC, and other systems based on occupancy patterns, improving energy efficiency, particularly in commercial buildings. Integration of technology opens more avenues of incorporating sustainable measures , such as setting up charging stations for electric vehicles in parking lots, encouraging the use of sustainable practices and reducing carbon footprints.

The primary challenge in technology-adoption is lack of awareness and understanding among stakeholders, and technical expertise and resources to implement these solutions effectively. However, there are growing efforts to facilitate the creation of industry-specific clusters that bring together technology startups, investors, and construction firms to create an ecosystem of innovation.

Another challenge is the initial high cost but there is growing sensitivity that the ROI in the long run offsets the initial investment. A study by the World Economic Forum substantiates that digital technologies can renovate ten times the space of traditional technologies within the same budget. The cost of investment can be recouped in less than five years compared to passive energy-efficient solutions, which may take up to 15 years. There are also tax incentives to builders who use sustainable construction materials and technology solutions.

As we look towards a more sustainable future, it’s clear that technology will be a key driver of change in the real estate industry and there are countless examples of the same. To fully embrace these technologies, we need to invest in research & development, awareness and collaboration to create innovative solutions that meet the unique needs of this industry.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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