Proptech Ireland: Proptech Delivering ESG Solutions
The technologies underpinning the theory
Property technology (proptech) has found increased usage over the past couple of years. In part due to companies requiring effective technology solutions to keep employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the ability of these systems to help meet ESG obligations.
These Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria are essential to ensuring the impact companies and developments have is largely a positive one. Against the backdrop of climate change, mental health crises, and the pandemic, investors are now, more than ever, keenly aware of the importance of ESG.
Proptech allows the construction and real estate industry to deliver on ESG through the arrays of sensors, controllers, and monitoring devices that now reside within our buildings. The data these collect can help maximise energy efficiency, improve the conditions for those that inhabit it, and guide oversight and decision-making throughout a property’s lifecycle.
And Ireland is forming part of proptech’s vanguard with several exciting and innovative companies showing how these solutions can be used to enhance these spaces. Here, we’ll look at some of the most significant Irish companies in the proptech space and how they are helping achieve ESG targets.
Creating “Healthy Buildings” with acoustics and air quality monitoring
Founded in 2007, Sonitus Systems (https://www.sonitussystems.com) provides automated environmental monitoring tools and online reporting, focusing on noise and air quality, factors now known to affect health and cognitive function.
Sonitus Systems’ user-friendly tools are now widely used throughout Ireland and the EU as a way to ensure spaces meet their ESG responsibilities.
Their instruments are cost-effective and reliable. The EM2030, for example, is a sound-level monitor designed for demanding environments that could possibly prove too tough for other instruments. As soon as the power is switched on, noise-level monitoring begins with the readings uploaded straight to Sonitus System’s online reporting system, Sonitus Cloud. This online platform allows analysis and comparison to be performed from anywhere.
With poor air quality now known to exacerbate viruses’ like covid-19, measuring PM10, PM2.5 and PM1 are more important than ever. Weather-proof and rugged, Sonitus System’s DM30 Dustsens helps monitor air quality continuously, uploading data to Sonitus Cloud and alerting site managers of significant changes. Easy to install, the DM30 requires no filters or maintenance and is ready to deploy on any site.
Making smart buildings safer
With our buildings now more connected than ever, keeping them safe from cyberthreats is a growing concern. With the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, hackers, bots, and malware are now finding it easier than ever to intercept the data flow within these “Smart Buildings”, posing a significant threat of identity theft, fraud, and confidential data being compromised.
Keeping these networks safe is Standard Access (https://standardaccess.co/) with their end-to-end smart building operating system. Agnostic and adaptable, Standard Access’ operating system encrypts all data, meaning compromised sensors and devices cannot snoop. The operating system also helps meet ESG goals in allowing the tracking of key metrics, such as air quality, headcount, mask-wearing, and social distance monitoring.
Making property smart, secure, and accessible, Standard Access is also a global leader in access control, reinventing the key with their app’s unique “Sonic Handshake” to open doors for permitted individuals.
The next generation of contractor
One of the major challenges the industry faces in meeting its ESG obligations is unifying disparate smart solutions. While contemporary buildings do tend to include multiple smart functionalities, these are typically supplied and installed by multiple contractors. Combined with retrofitted and ad-hoc systems the integrity of smart buildings is compromised and the different technologies remain unintegrated.
An MSI, therefore, aggregates all the data a smart building captures into a “data lake”, building a better picture of performance data, including valuable ESG metrics.
A promising solution to this issue is the concept of a Master Systems Integrator (MSI). As described by the McKeon Group (https://mckeon.ie/master-systems-integrator/), an MSI is a more than simply a technology consultant, it is an experienced design and build construction contractor with the technological expertise to consider all the different systems of a smart building at design stage, to ensure effective and secure harmonisation of them for optimum building performance.
Better placemaking through community engagement
The role of the community and stakeholders in placemaking cannot be understated. Taking into consideration their first-hand experience, concerns and experiences prove to be essential data that helps developments better address ESG issues.
Bridging the gap between these communities, stakeholders, authorities, and organisations is PLACEengage (https://placeengage.com/), a public consultation platform that can be considered a “virtual town hall.” Everything from planning decisions and proposals to meetings can be uploaded to PLACEengage, and is a great way to include people in the decision-making process.
The platform allows participants to communicate and stay up to date with property developments with just a smartphone any time of day. The software is also paving the way in utilizing augmented and virtual reality, giving stakeholders and communities the chance to experience proposed property developments before they are constructed.
Cutting edge BEMS and BMS solutions
MC3E for short, McCool Controls and Engineering (http://mccoolcontrols.ie/) is an Irish company that has specialised in Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) since 1991, offering solutions to large complexes such as St Vincent’s University Hospital, Aldi Distribution Center, and Telefex Medical.
Expert Master Systems Integrators, MC3E is also leading the way in encouraging the introduction of next-generation contractors onto building sites and planning meetings. Bringing the technologies together is MC3E’s new BMS, the CoolSúil-IoT suite that is a scalable and open-protocol smart building solution which allows real-time monitoring to help maximise efficiency and safety.
In terms of ESG, the suite allows contact tracing, real-time locating, smart-lighting, energy management, hot desk management, close proximity alerts, touchless control services, and more.
Proptech implementation specialist
Demonstrating the endless possibilities of combining smart building technology and the Internet of Things devices is J.V. Tierney & Co. http://www.jvtierney.ie/updates-and-articles/smart-buildings-internet-of-things-and-the-dock-hanover-quay) that has successfully designed and integrated these solutions in The Dock Building, in Dublin’s Hanover Quay.
Known as The Dock Innovation Hub, the office building is 7,432m2 and has been reimagined with an innovative layout incorporating Smart Technologies from the ground up. Adding a real-time communication layer throughout the building is the cloud platform,CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) which enables users to add features to applications without the need for additional backend infrastructure or interfaces.
Notably, the building’s HVAC system automatically reacts to CO2 levels based on how many people are present in a room, adjusting ventilation, heating, and lighting accordingly, entering low power modes if no motion is detected, and saving energy. All mechanical and electrical utilities in the building are also metered, demonstrating the way these technologies can be used to meet sustainability targets.
Not forgetting the inhabitants of the building, The Dock also has integrated audio-visual conferencing solutions built-in, allowing digital collaborative meetings. Reducing the need for waste, the signage in the building is also digital and can similarly be disabled if no activity is detected.
Live air quality monitoring and smart solutions
Committed to making utility usage data easier to retrieve, ZiggyTec (https://www.ziggytec.com/) has been creating innovative IoT devices since 2018.
Brought together under their cloud-based monitoring software, the company’s smart solutions are now being used for everything from indoor air quality monitoring to the detection of missing safety devices.
ZiggyAir, for example, is a monitoring device that evaluates the level of contaminants and pollutants circulating in an environment. Built-in connectivity means this data is sent seamlessly to the ZiggyPortal or ZiggyMobile platforms which can even alert facilities managers of important changes to an indoor environment’s air. The technology can monitor not only the temperature and humidity of an environment but the CO2 levels, as well as the particulate matter present and volatile organic compounds.
The company is also making utility meters smarter with their ZiggyUtility solution which allows the conversion of “dumb” meters.
Automated emergency lighting testing
Traditionally, ensuring emergency lighting systems are working, tested, and audit-ready is a job that nobody enjoyed. Typically requiring the manual push of a button, at the top of a ladder, potentially dozens, or hundreds of times, emergency lighting testing is often something tasked to outside contractors.
Thanks to Safecility and their automated Emergency Light Controller (https://www.safecility.com/emergency-light-controller), property owners can now ensure legal and ESG obligations are met a lot easier. These sensors attach to existing emergency lighting boxes, with the device conducting duration and function tests by itself. This data is then transmitted via Narrow-Band Internet of Things (NBIoT) which allows the devices to communicate via their own network.
Using the Safecility platform, this data is then collated into reports instantly, with compliance failures spotted easily.
Digital twin solutions for built environments
Digital Twins are one of the most powerful tools facilities managers have when it comes to ensuring ESG duties are considered. Using simulation and real-time data, better decisions can be made that enhance the wellness of inhabitants and help make buildings more sustainable.
Leading the way in digital twin technology is Invicara’s Twinit (https://invicara.com/) which is a unique platform that allows customisation to a high degree, tailoring the virtual representation and the real-time data to each building.
Whether a custom or a packaged solution is utilised, Twinit is designed to allow the monitoring and recording of an entire portfolio’s life. This includes achieving net-zero carbon, circularity, occupant wellbeing, and comfort, identifying failure points and reducing maintenance costs, and extending the life of equipment through monitoring.
The software is a blend of Building Information Modelling (BIM), Building Management Systems (BMS), IoT data, geo-location data, and supervisory control and data acquisition.
The rich models that Twinit provides mean clients can better look after assets, the environment, and the people that use them.
Geospatial survey experts
Formerly known as Murphy Surveys, Murphy Geospatial (https://murphygs.com/) has evolved into a company providing highly accurate and verifiable geospatial data and surveys using the latest technology and workflows.
At each stage of a project’s life, from strategy and consulting to planning and design, the construction, and its use, Murphy Geospatial has a solution that can help make critical decisions that maximise efficiency.
These include feasibility studies, consulting with planners and designers with geospatial data, geospatial certainty for heavy lifting and structural monitoring, and helping asset owners plan for the future of a building.
Using the company’s GeoCERT platform, the process is split into four stages, Capture, Verification, Conversion, and Validated Output. Using GeoCERT, geospatial data certainty can be accessed by all involved at any time.
Future-proofing interior spaces through a flexible construction system
With FlexSpaces finding increased usage, workspaces that can be easily adapted and transformed are an important consideration when it comes to ESG, allowing spaces to be more efficiently used.
Revolutionizing everything about commercial fit-outs is Arcology International (http://arcologyint.com/) which has the goal of making FlexSpaces even more flexible. Their solutions unlock the circular economy and are changing the way fit-outs are designed and leased, as well as procured, constructed, and later managed.
This is thanks to their (patent pending) integrated, modular, flexible construction system in combination with their generative software and IoT digital platform tying it all together.
With their suite of solutions, Arcology turns assets into intelligent interiors, they call “Material Banks” that future-proof properties and transforms them into a Space as a Service (SPaaS, á la https://www.antonyslumbers.com ).
As can be seen from the exciting developments happening right now in the proptech space, though the challenges are significant, these solutions are helping company’s meet ESG targets easier than ever before.
*What Ireland-based providers have we missed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Proptech Ireland is leading and facilitating transformation of the property and construction industries by connecting innovators with industry organisations and investors (angel and VC). For real estate companies to be successful, innovation is now a critical competency. Proptech Ireland consultants take on the role of in-house digital transformation and ESG strategists, advising on tech suitability, procurement, and ROI calculations – from vision to operational veracity. www.prop-tech.ie.