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How New Tech Changes Commercial Real Estate

Advances in technology are not only changing what goes into buildings, but also how they are designed, built and managed, according to several of our panelists at Bisnow's San Francisco State of the Market.


Things that were leading edge 10 years ago are commonplace today, said Lendlease SVP Bruce Berardi. That's Bruce, left, with WiredScore director of business development David Weinstein speaking at the event.

Some changes are driven by the demands of Title 24 efficiency standards, while some are driven by design as more buildings sport angles, curves and setbacks, Bruce said. Then there are the amenities within, such as the wiring or showers and bicycle storage. There are more things going into buildings that make them a lot more challenging, he said.


PAE Consulting Engineers principal Christain Agulles said a major challenge has been dealing with changing standards. With the old codes, there was a set recipe to make sure a building met the requirements, but as the bar has shifted, that recipe has become more elusive and harder to predict.

New technology can help make the right decisions, such as certain tools for energy analysis and simulations, he said. Of course, the technology hasn't caught up completely. Christian said Title 24 compliance software was designed for older systems, so doesn't work with some approaches that are newer.

He said one of the biggest changes from even a few years ago is that engineers are brought into the process much earlier to help create the efficiency needed to get complicated buildings built on a budget.

Lendlease's Bruce said it is becoming more important to bring everyone in early to work together and find solutions. He mentioned how determining where mechanical or electrical systems are located may not matter to the end user, but can make a real difference in terms of a project's speed. 


Essel Environmental Engineering and Consulting president Nik Lahiri moderated, and asked whether the end user understands or even cares about the technology going into a building.

"They care, but they don't even know the right questions to ask," said WiredScore's David. On a very basic level, the people inside a building need the Internet to work, and not just work, but have the infrastructure in place to support the multiple devices that people employ on a daily basis, he said.

By offering an industry standard, which WiredScore does, both tenants and landlords have the information they need to have the right conversations and know that a building is the right fit, he said.


Leasing buildings also is becoming more technologically driven. Portfolio management is just catching up with the technology available to move beyond operating on a gut feeling with stale data, said VTS head of business development Andrew Flint. We snapped Andrew chatting with VTS colleague Hunter Sprole before the event.

VTS's leasing and portfolio management tools aggregate real-time data so users can make more informed decisions rather than relying on digging through an "awkward web of individual spreadsheets," he said.