A new industrial revolution

Dear friends and business partners, The world remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals and businesses alike are concerned about the possibility of another lockdown, with sentiment in the real estate sector also being affected. Institutional real estate investors have made significant changes to their investment strategy, as evidenced by the latest investment climate survey of European investment professionals conducted by Union Investment. They are generally taking on less risk and accepting lower returns as a trade-off.

The survey also found that respondents are shifting their investment focus towards climate-friendly investment – more than half of those surveyed intend to invest more in this area in future. Policymakers also continue to push for greater sustainability. Legislation, ordinances and building regulations will all be tightened up considerably in the coming years, with penalties for failure to comply. At some point it will no longer be possible to let space if owners cannot demonstrate how a building performs in terms of sustainability.

While the coronavirus pandemic has massively accelerated the pace of digital transformation, the main driver is still sustainability. This is because transparency around consumption and emissions plays a crucial role, but is impossible without digital support. Accordingly, many companies and industry initiatives already involve digitalisation and sustainability teams working hand in hand. 

Let me give an example: Union Investment is currently looking at equipping all its fund properties with smart technology to measure energy consumption. Fitting sensors and connecting different systems will make it possible to combine building-specific and usage-specific data in a way that enables user-oriented services. This is an important stepping stone on the way to smart buildings. The data gathered can also be used to support energy monitoring and management in buildings, thereby making an important contribution to greater sustainability.

Digital ecosystems for tenants will play a major part going forward, as multidisciplinary collaboration becomes the norm. Union Investment’s first proprietary platform was launched recently. A digital ecosystem for tenants creates new options and standards for the interaction between employees, the workplace and its surroundings. Digital solution components generate real added value, making life easier for tenants and users both during working hours and beyond. 

The first specific application will be a smart digital parking space service for the Emporio office complex in Hamburg, incorporated into the existing building app. This will form a nucleus for further innovation. Whether the focus is on mobility, safety and security or energy management, the real estate sector will need to work closely with other industries in order to make progress. Digital ecosystems create precisely these connections and could mark the start of a new industrial revolution.  

Kind regards, 
Lars Scheidecke

Title image: Union Investment / Urban Zintel

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