San Francisco BuildingTech: Technologies Serving the Built Environment

On September 13th, 2018, five experts discussed the Future of Building Technology at the 3rd Annual DisruptCRE San Francisco summit.

The panelists included:

  • Moderator: Jim Alexander, Director – BOINGO
  • Allen Preger, Partner – Borealis Ventures
  • Ari Sacharow, Sr. Manager, Workplace Planning & Operations (North America & ANZ) – Quantcast
  • Steve Minden, Senior Director, Design & Construction – Tishman Speyer
  • Mike Petrusky, Director  – iOFFICE

How are you using technology to optimize energy efficiency and improve the bottom line of your buildings?

Steve Minden, Senior Director Design & Construction with Tishman Speyer begins by telling the audience, “As a company standard, all of our buildings are now designed to LEED Gold standard or better and we keep improving on this. We have a software called Mock that we use to monitor all our buildings in real time that gives feedback on the energy profiles of each building and identifies trends so we can anticipate peaks and also identify abnormalities so our engineers can be proactive about addressing those issues.”

He goes on to talk about a new pilot project Tishman Speyer just did in Los Angeles where they installed battery storage which allows them to reduce peak loads. He explains that during the Summer in LA, the rate for electricity in the afternoons is almost triple and so they partnered with a company called STEM which provided the capital for the battery itself and then shares the savings with Tishman Speyer. Minden says for zero up-front investment, they are seeing a share of savings of about $20,000 per year on an individual property which can be scaled up.

“More recently, I’m working on a project called “Mission Rock” in partnership with the SF Giants to develop a large piece of property where they are implementing a district energy plant to create an eco-district. This will take care advantage of a lot of synergies and diversity between residential and commercial buildings, coupled with using water from the bay as a cooling source for significant energy savings. The goal of that project is to be 100% renewable energy and eliminating natural gas. We’re finding that we’re going to be able to achieve that goal essentially for no premium cost over the business as usual case.”

How is prefab and modular construction changing the game both for commercial real estate professionals as well as for occupiers and residents?

Allen Preger, Partner with Borealis Ventures outlines, “If you look at the construction industry and how we build, it’s kind of like the automobile industry before Henry Ford came along. Everything is individually built by a team of skilled craftsmen and it’s low, tedious and expensive. What really excites us about this moment in time is that construction is about to hit it’s industrial revolution. The technology has a lot to do with it and

It’s the entrepreneurs who are creating these vertically integrated business models, all vying to obe that Henry Ford of the construction space because the stakes are high. Taking the labor off-site is 30%; if you can predict when you will have the building in place like predicting when the automobile is going to roll of the production line, it’s money and that’s just incredible.

Today, people are connected through technology in all aspects of their lives. How are CRE professionals preparing building environments to engage its occupants and meet new expectations?

Ari Sacharow, Head of Workplace for Quantcast says, “Flexible, dynamic and modular. For a long time our approach to commercial spaces was, you can get it in any color you want as long as it’s black and that’s not what people want or how they work. We have a growing trend where the commercial real estate function actually rolls into HR rather than finance. That change that our responsibility is to attract, retain and engage employees at every step of the business make us rethink the way we have to approach spaces. Headcounts, especially amongst tech companies, can change instantly. We have to have spaces that can adapt to that growing change.”

Mike Petrusky, Director with iOFFICE tells the audience “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

He says companies need to first look inward at their organization to find out what they need and what the business outcome they are after is, before evaluating new technologies.