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What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves


We already know tech is changing the face of the real estate industry. Time to move on. Panelists at Bisnow’s Future of Real Estate event this week in NYC gave some sense of where we’re moving on to, exactly.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

As Onyx Equities managing principal Jonathan Schultz (right), a moderator, points out, commercial real estate’s been a reluctant adopter of new tech. And Reonomy CEO Rich Sarkis (with the mic) says one of the keys to accelerating that adoption has been targeting those most likely to do the adopting.

Rich says it was a long, hard slog when he started the company and would pitch top execs, hoping they’d see the value in his company’s data-crunching platform and sign their whole firm up. But adoption of new tech has tended to be a bottom-up phenomenon, and Rich says sales picked up once his company’s approach reflected that reality.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

A lot of the talk about technology and real estate centers around flashy new toys and cool digital tools. But what happens when a former designer of telescopes for NASA enters the conversation?

Lowline co-founder James Ramsey gave us an idea when he described the light capturing technology he’s developing to funnel natural light into The Lowline, allowing plants to grow in the world’s first underground park. It's game-changing and yet simple.

James' team is fundraising and negotiating with the city and the MTA, which owns the 50k SF prospective home of the revolutionary park, under Delancey Street on the Lower East Side.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

As ConEd energy-efficiency team manager Dave Pospisil (left) points out, sometimes innovation comes from properly embracing what’s been in front of us all along.

Some of the city’s old-school infrastructure is making things possible that wouldn’t be otherwise. He points to the supertall residential towers along 57th Street that only make sense with such a narrow footprint if they can draw from the city’s 100-year-old steam system.

CodeGreen Solutions principal Chris Cayten (center, with Mayor's Office of Sustainability head Nilda Mesa) says in his work helping landlords make sustainability upgrades, he’s seen a shift away from looking at something like LEED certification as a box to be checked.

There’s more of a desire to tool around with energy usage numbers and understand what the data points that go into using less energy actually mean. He calls it a more DIY approach.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

Hudson Cos senior project manager Arianna Sacks Rosenberg puts it this way: It’s about transparency. It’s an ever more data-driven world, and that’ll only increase as younger folks make more real estate decisions. She expects this to be a big driver moving sustainability forward.

Energy Management Systems CEO Greg Voltz (center, with Arianna and moderator Andrew Graceffa of Vidaris) says now it’s possible to monitor energy usage in almost real time. That means measuring energy load can take into account things like whether or not a space is occupied, and by how many people. Now you can see if the efficiency measures you’re taking have even been working and make tweaks as you go.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

It’s easy to get caught up in the hunger for more data, but tech has to go beyond that, as Unikey CEO Phil Dumas reminds us. That's Phil with the mic, with VTS head of business development Andrew Flint and Real Data Management CEO Peter Boritz.

His company develops technology for smart locks, which can give building owners a wealth of data on when facilities within buildings are in use, and by whom.

But he says in adopting this kind of tech, it’s critical not to forget that the point isn’t just to get more data. The system also has to be easy to use or people will get frustrated with it. His benchmark? It should be less of a hassle to open a digital lock with a fob or an app on a phone than it is to turn a key in a lock. Otherwise you’re doing it wrong.

What To Expect As Real Estate Evolves

There could be shifts in demand on the way that most folks haven’t even thought about. Constantine Kontokosta, professor of Urban Informatics and deputy director of the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress, points to the impact self-driving cars could have.

If your car can drive somewhere to park itself, what use is there for large amounts of off-street parking in prime areas?

Real estate should be ready for all this and more, Phil says. “And if you don’t like it,” he adds, “you should probably change industries.”