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    Technology trends that are shaping our future buildings

    Phil Daniell, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Building Technologies, Middle East, Türkiye and Africa 

    The buildings of tomorrow are facing a plethora of demands - from being digitally innovative to serving the dynamic needs of hybrid working, while being secure enough to protect intellectual property from advanced cyber threats. Occupant well-being and sustainability are additional and critical demands that continue to play an integral role in shaping the buildings of the future. The latter is driven by accelerating climate change action as part of nation-wide agendas to move towards reducing the impact of climate change.

    Here in the Middle East, this momentum is evident with the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) having taken place in Egypt in 2022 and the UAE hosting COP28 later in 2023. Indeed, the UAE has marked 2023 as its ‘Year of Sustainability’, reinforcing the UAE’s commitment to fostering collaboration to solve sustainability-related issues.

    Honeywell recently revealed its predictions for emerging trends that will help shape building operations and technologies in 2023, and beyond.

    One key emerging trend is dynamically responsive buildings that can adapt to hybrid workers and adjust the demand for energy accordingly. The 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction found that the building and construction sector accounted for 34% of energy demand and 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.[i]

    Building management systems will increasingly leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to optimize both energy efficiency and occupant well-being, which will no longer be viewed as mutually exclusive priorities. These algorithms can build sophisticated models that reveal hidden energy waste as they weigh conditions and demand against current occupancy, weather conditions and utility pricing.

    In the Middle East, governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced broad Net Zero plans as part of sustainability goals, while building standards have also been raised in recent years. Energy efficient solutions in the building space have also helped reduce per capita electricity consumption, with the electricity consumption in UAE’s commercial buildings being reduced to 36% of total consumption.[ii]

    Another trend is that cities will look to build energy resilience into operational plans as extreme climate and weather events occur more frequently [iii]. Cities and communities will need solutions such as microgrids and battery energy storage systems that help them better respond to climate-triggered power outages, especially where they affect critical infrastructure such as hospitals and traffic control systems.

    Lastly, as the Internet of Things continues to merge operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) systems – and cyberattacks increase in frequency as well as sophistication - advanced AI/ML-enabled cybersecurity will become integral to the design of digitalized building technology systems.[iv]

    These trends collectively show that advanced technology adoption is rapidly becoming integral to every facet of building operations. Whether it’s helping to reduce carbon impact, defend against cyberattacks, optimize both energy performance and occupant well-being, or make communities more resilient in times of crisis, technology can provide a competitive business advantage as well as help reduce operating expenses.

     

    [i] UN Environment Programme, CO2 emissions from buildings and construction hit new high, leaving sector off track to decarbonize by 2050: UN, November 9, 2022. [Accessed December 8, 2022]

    [ii] KAPSARC, Economic and Environmental Benefits of Improving UAE Building Stock Energy Efficiency, K, Dubey, June 9, 2017

    [iii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate change indicators: weather and climate, updated August 1, 2022. [Accessed December 9, 2022]

    [iv] Forbes, Alarming cyber statistics for mid-year 2022 that you need to know, Chuck Brooks, June 3, 2022. [Accessed December 9, 2022]