April 12, 2019
Once upon a time, “office technology” focused on ensuring that a space had enough wiring to hook up phones, computers and other equipment. Tenants would design their spaces to their own technical specifications.
But, in this day and age, landlords and building owners are finding they have to provide telecommunications infrastructure — and even offer technology such as smart windows — to attract tenants. A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that, while location, access to transportation and floor-plate size remain the primary reasons tenants select spaces, beefing up tech provides a competitive advantage. Basically, landlords with state-of-the-art tech knowhow can command premium rents. But, those that don’t provide tech infrastructure as part of their packages might have to offer a discount.
According to CRETech, venture capital investors are taking note. In 2018, venture capitalists invested $9.6 billion in real estate technologies. So far, in Q1 2019, investments totaled $4.9 billion, a 250% year-over-year increase.
Such tech projects include the following:
- DivcoWest’s Cambridge Crossing in Massachusetts offers 2.1 million square feet of office space. Underground, and hidden within the buildings, will be an estimated 10 miles of fiber-optic cable, meaning uninterrupted Wi-Fi everywhere on the premises.
- The Durst Organization installed “smart windows” in an office pavilion topping a Midtown Manhattan building. The windows automatically tint when the sun is shining, eliminating the need for shades. The windows were supplied by View, a California company that manufactures “dynamic glass.”
- MarketAxess’ headquarters, in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, contains jumbo screens in every meeting space. Meanwhile, in the boardroom, equipment powering electrical outlets, data ports and jumbo wall screens is contained in a nearby walk-in closet. The office’s main data center is in New Jersey. Daylight sensors on windows dim office lights if the sun is bright, with window shades automatically going up and down, depending on the time of day.
Other technology using mobile apps or computer software (often provided by landlords) allows employees to research different gathering places before deciding where to set up meetings. The employees can check data on occupancy, temperature and daylight, then decide whether to head to a quieter spot to work without distraction, or a sunny side of the office, where others are already meeting. The data is also monitored by building operators to determine climate control, or the need for janitorial services in a particular area.
The downside, however, is a potential for security risks within digital offices, not to mention the specter of in-depth surveillance. Noted Arie Barendrecht with New York consultant WiredScore: “There are so many great benefits of a digitally-enabled building. There’s also a downside.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Amy Sorter