How many of the new functions of your smartphone, your oven or your e-car made possible by crazy technologies do you use? How often have you experienced that you were promised something by a technology that turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy at the moment of use? And isn’t it true that we like to overestimate what technology will radically change in the next 2 years and at the same time underestimate the changes in the next 10 years?
What is decisive is not the answer, but to ask the right question. The question of why constitutes the origin of change; the why itself is the compass with which a transformation leads to success. So, if we cannot answer the why or what for, it is impossible in the long term to continuously and strategically build up the topic of smart building over years and anchor it in society.
We all know the challenges of the next 30 years. In 2015 in Paris, all countries signed up to take action to keep global temperatures to a maximum of 2 degrees above the pre-industrial era. To ensure this, we must achieve a balance between emissions and the absorption or storage of CO2 by 2050. Keyword global climate neutrality.
If we know that buildings last between 50 and 150 years on average and that a quarter of all emissions in Germany can be attributed to buildings (Climate Protection Report of the Federal Ministry for the Environment 2019), shouldn’t we do everything we can today to firstly avoid the climate catastrophe and secondly build the foundation for the time after 2050 to enable a humane life in harmony with the global ecosystem?
You may ask: why smart buildings? First, to enable the greatest possible contribution to climate neutrality in the coming decades. Second, because we know that there will be a time afterwards. A time when many things will be different because we humans will have changed our behavior with these smart and technologically advanced buildings in order to achieve the climate targets. How the behavior should be does not determine the technology of tomorrow, but our intentions today.
Because time is pressing and we know how long it takes to transform cities and infrastructures, we need to consider the following three factors:
We have to think extremely differently and act with maximum speed.
We must not get lost in detail but act systemically and with maximum foresight. For example: if we concentrate only on pushing e-charging stations for private transport in public buildings or office complexes, we lose sight of the fact that private transport must and will also change. In the next 30 years, we are guaranteed to go through a number of technology loops. A commitment to just one innovation will prevent us from getting close enough to the why, the really clever smart building.
The future can only be won together.
We need to establish multi-layered ecosystems and work in open networks where everyone can participate equally. Instead of the currently prevailing competing business models, we must create platforms where the exchange of data and its use is completely natural and barrier-free. Only by doing so we will be able to use and develop new technology in the spirit of the why.
Smart buildings must immediately become part of the Circular Economy.
Whether renovating existing buildings or developing new neighborhoods, the circular use of resources is critical to achieving climate goals. Smart buildings provide essential data in their creation, use and deconstruction and will thus enable functions based on systemic data that serve society, the economy and the planet in the long term.
Find out more about our vision and mission in our manifesto.
Karel J. Golta
CEO + Founder