Future-Ready Building Designs: A step towards building a sustainable tomorrow

June 22, 2021 12:36 PM

Over the past years, developers along with buyers and investors have committed to ensuring that they are doing their part to ensure a better tomorrow by offering future-ready designs which have sustainability at the center.

The need for future-ready building designs has also led organizations to initiate programs and come forward with initiatives to further the need for sustainable buildings.

While future-ready signifies anticipating and planning for the way forward, when it comes to construction, it is an assessment process aimed at maximizing the life cycle and value of buildings in the face of unprecedented events or changes in the future.

There are prior measures required to be taken to ensure reduced damaging impacts and prevent harm that may occur due to the possibility of alterations. Keeping in mind the future events, with the help of strategic and well-thought-through plans, not only can cities survive but also be sustained for a longer period. The core objective of strategic urban planning for sustainable communities is the need to accommodate future changes by proposing a framework of future-ready building designs with the focus to bridge the gap between the traditional short-term outlook and the need for resilient and flexible buildings over the long term.

The process begins by examining & integrating the principles of both a future-ready and sustainable design to obtain a set of sustainable futureproofing (SFP) design principles. These then address the entire system lifecycle and account for the impact on the system of additional future-ready elements. The impact is categorized by the system lifecycle and assessed using a rating system that needs to be developed to integrate future-ready elements in the system ensuring overall system sustainability.

NEED FOR FUTURE-READY BUILDINGS & DESIGNS

Over the years, people/property owners have become more conscious of the damaging effects of real estate infrastructure on the environment and their communities. According to reports, the real estate sector alone contributes to 40% of the global carbon emissions from construction and operations. Taking this into consideration, there is a renewed focus on making decarbonizing and future-ready local infrastructure. When done right, the aforementioned not only addresses the environmental challenges but also proves to be a cost-efficient solution to ensure social equity, community health, and well-being.

The need for future-ready building designs has also led organizations to initiate programs and come forward with initiatives to further the need for sustainable buildings. The World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero campaign that was set up in 2016 has since influenced stakeholders across the board alike. Builders are now readily adopting low or zero-carbon-heating solutions.

But the challenge that arises is altering older buildings as they require updated energy systems, along with changes in the internal layouts and facades. Therefore, re-thinking the way, we re-design and re-construction requires more attention as the future performance of a building is basis the previous layout. Future-ready existing buildings will prove more cost-efficient for developers, eventually leading to better returns on investment—while ensuring the life-cycle expansion and modernization of infrastructure.

Further, to enable sustainability, the focus will have to be directed towards creating designs that use less material and ensures the recycling of steel and concrete to ensure the decrease in the carbon emission of the building. Future-ready designs require the change to be introduced not only at a performance level but across all levels.

BENEFITS OF FUTURE-READY DESIGN

Over the past years, developers along with buyers and investors have committed to ensuring that they are doing their part to ensure a better tomorrow by offering future-ready designs which have sustainability at the center. Some of the key benefits or advantages of having future-ready designs or construction are:

⦁ Protection against natural disasters: Since the aim of future-ready buildings is to be prepared for change, the need for existing and new houses to be future-ready arises especially in the regions that are prone to major climate changes. Retrofitting is one such way to prepare buildings for the future through the addition of new features to older buildings, heritage structures, bridges, etc. It helps reduce the vulnerability of existing developments and makes buildings a space haven in areas susceptible to natural disasters.

⦁ Health and Wellness: With the factors like global warming and high levels of pollution contributing to a large part of the illness faced by citizens, opting for designs or construction centered around the theme of a green building ensures a healthier society.

⦁ Environment-friendly: Future-ready designs help in conserving a large number of resources like water and power and function on renewable resources for construction which ensure waste efficiency, recycling, etc. In turn, ensuring the carbon footprint of the building is decreased

⦁ Cost-efficient: If we look at green buildings or future-ready designs when it comes to financial value, both investors and developers enjoy the benefits. While for investors/ buyers, it means lower power and water consumption which results in lower electricity & water bills and a better resale value. For developers, it means lower construction costs and higher property value due to its certification which enables them to increase the property price when compared to regular buildings.

While earlier, budget stood as a crucial consideration for future-ready infrastructure, today, with continuous technical innovation, as well as global adoption, the costs of implementing low carbon technologies have significantly reduced. Using green energy sources such as solar panels and rechargeable battery storage is proven to bring long-term financial benefits; it also maximizes the potential for new sources of economic growth.

BUILDING A BETTER TOMORROW

With the number of extreme weather events like global warming on the rise, the need for eliminating carbon footprint has become dire, leading to an increased need for sustainable buildings. It is estimated the energy consumption by buildings would triple by 2050. Understanding the growing need for sustainability, governments are also aiming to combat climate change through net-zero construction. Also, with a growing possibility of an increase in the costs of fossil fuels powering the functionality of buildings, green buildings are further being seen as a better alternative.

We believe that with advances in technology, a more mobile workforce, and uncertain economic growth, which are reshaping the business environment and transforming the occupier approach to real estate decisions, office spaces should be brought to the center of future-ready design. While this can include the basics such as providing natural light and high-quality air, designs should also incorporate biophilic features to connect building occupants with the natural environment, thus ensuring the mental wellness of employees.

While improved technology that remains at the core of future-ready buildings, shall enable businesses to complement their existing energy sources with newer technologies to achieve better resilience, ensuring the right governance, defining the correct management roles and responsibilities and accountability policies will help fulfill long-term goals.

(By Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & CEO, India, South-East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE)

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