While facing some difficulties with supply chains and other areas during COVID, the construction of residential apartment complexes continued relatively unabated and does so to this day.
The demand for residential housing in Australia continues to grow with shortfalls in available housing stock being one of the reasons the value of real estate has soared over the last 10 years. State Governments continue to look at planning and zoning laws with a desire to limit suburban sprawl through growth in multi-tenant apartment and mixed-use complexes in inner suburbs with access to shopping and transport. The result of this is that we should expect to see continued growth in new apartment buildings.
Financial Pressures Abound
A consequence of the upward pressure on housing prices is the reduction in the number of buyers in the market. An outcome of this is the trend towards Build To Rent (BTR) developments as a way for Developers to continue to deliver a return on their investment.
Another area impacting Developers as we write is the high cost of materials and labour and this is seeing construction costs soar, putting pressure on the financial viability of Build To Sell (BTS) as returns may not justify the investment.
This leads Developers to focus on the areas on construction where they can deliver cost reductions in construction that enable them to make projects viable whilst increasing the attractiveness of the sale (or rental) through investment in facilities and technologies.
A key element in apartment desirability for both BTR and BTS is the building’s environmental credentials. Consumers are looking for renewable energy, energy efficiency (in apartments and construction and equipment) and lower operating costs.
Developers are looking to achieve Green Building Council of Australia GreenStar Ratings, Climate Active Carbon Neutral Certification, and NatHERS to meet the minimum efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC) which includes a minimum 7-star rating or equivalent as well as an annual energy use budget for the residence, including fixed appliances, solar and batteries.
From an energy source perspective, these approaches have made any fossil fuel energy unattractive, which is removing gas as a fuel source from new developments. This drives the inclusion of all-electric services for hot water and air-conditioning, and these are increasingly centralised solutions, that simplify construction and save space in apartments.
The current NCC requirements for Electric Vehicle Charging are also putting pressure on electricity supply and increasing the need for efficient buildings that better understand electrical load and how to manage this during peak usage times in the building.
End to End Utility Solutions
Smart, efficient buildings of the future are appearing now. These buildings realise their impact on the environment and understand the needs of the residents and how these two complimentary elements come together is what is driving design of utility solutions.
The driving force of these buildings is data. Understanding every moving part in the building, and particularly the consumption of electricity and water and the emissions from operations has been understood for some time, however for a long time we have had many supposedly smart buildings that were quite dumb.
Smarter buildings need to understand their usage of electricity across every service in minute detail. The systems need to alert the building to necessary reductions and manage which services need attention. They need to be alert to the demands outside the building and be able to respond to these while ensuring no loss of amenity to the residents.
The environmental accreditations identified above all need quality data at great depth to sustain and this same data is used for building tuning, but so much data is collected from multiple sources and rarely comes together in any usable form to be effective.
To work effectively, the data needs to be single source and presented in a way that makes it viable for the building to make decisions on maintenance and scheduling. It needs to be able to automatically make decisions of usage and redirection of supply and to efficiently reduce consumption and cost. It needs to inform a single, collective environment and respond efficiently to its needs.
This will see the increase in centralised solutions with complex metering and data arrangements across every element of building and apartment consumption and these solutions will increasingly be outsourced to third parties to supply and manage. This helps the Developer in reducing costs in construction and the building in reducing costs for maintenance and consumables resulting in lower costs for lot owners and tenants.
Active are seeing these buildings of the future and these new models of operations now and keeping pace with the evolution of these solutions will be a critical part of the energy transition. If you want to understand more about this transition, get in touch with Active through firstname.lastname@example.org.