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Be smart from the start to avoid compromising your building’s future

Designers of aeroplanes certainly can’t be accused of treating technology as an afterthought. According the Royal Academy of Engineering, during the average Boeing 747’s 50-year lifecycle it will have at least six upgrades to accommodate advances to its electronics, communications and other systems. Planning for this, Boeing designs the plane to allow old technology to be rapidly removed and replaced with minimal disruption.

The technology needs of aeroplanes are similar to that of today’s modern intelligent buildings, whose working life probably extends well beyond 50 years. Ideally, any modern building should be designed and built from the outset with its technology infrastructure and the full lifetime of the building at the centre of the strategy. But this isn’t happening nearly enough!

The design disconnect

Instead we often see disconnects between the design/build and the operation/maintenance phases of a project. Today many buildings are built with relatively limited input from end users, and as a consequence, they are rife with technology compromises.

The reality with intelligent buildings and estates is that connectivity is absolutely critical to their efficacy and success. In the past building technology systems were relatively ‘dumb’ and ‘passive’ but today’s active technology is central to building operations, the user experience and to the overall value of the property. Old mentalities and approaches to maintenance and upgrades really don’t cut it anymore.

Sustaining an intelligent building over time depends on having a plan for migrating to new systems in the future. To truly future proof a building across its full lifecycle, the needs of stakeholders throughout the building’s lifecycle must be factored in from the get-go. Even considering small things early on, such as the way the cabling is configured, can make a big difference to a building’s ability to adapt to future technologies. Without proper consideration, a building will start its life well below its potential and this will only rapidly diminish further over time.

The technology refresh cycle is inevitable

The thought of constructing a datacentre, office, hospital or hotel today that is fit for the technologies of 2040 is intimidating given nobody truly knows what connectivity and in-building technologies we will be talking about then. The speed of technological development is so fast it’s possible that a new building could even move through a generation of digital technology during its design and construction phases. Ultimately, the key to winning this game is not the ability to see into the future. It is preparing, as best as possible.

The best way for developers of new build projects to deal with future proofing is to think about the technology delivery plan much earlier in the building design cycle — at the heart of the building design process, not as an afterthought.

Being smart from the start involves taking early steps to head off obsolescence. Smart building research consultancy Memoori has some great perspectives on future proofing smart commercial buildings in its recent report which advocates the delivery of technical solutions that are flexible and adaptable to accommodate changing tenant demands.

Ideally, even before a shovel hits the dirt, the developer, main contractor, end user, architect, design firm and key technology providers should come together to start to plan a future proofed technology infrastructure.

As an industry we really need to break down mental barriers and old habits and all get on the same page in understanding that initial investments in an intelligent building infrastructure will result in more long-term cost savings and efficiencies and avoid lengthy, expensive retrofit projects further down the line.

A good place to start

LMG’s holistic delivery model is a good place to start. Unlike traditional siloed models, our seamless converged service incorporates design, install, ongoing management, maintenance and technology refresh, reporting, quoting and billing. We’ll help keep your building at the cutting-edge with an OPEX/aaS delivery model that allows you to access all the latest technology throughout your estate’s entire lifecycle.

If you want a building with a technology infrastructure that’s fit for the future, why not give us a call?