Utilities and energy efficiency
This is becoming an ever-more relevant topic in real estate as we’re entering a perfect storm of factors that are driving the adoption of technology that drive energy and utility efficiencies. Some of these factors include:
- Climate change is a priority on the political agenda.
- Property owners will have to pay a steep price for noncompliance under some recent regulations, including in New York City.
- Separate from regulatory pressure, property owners and operators are seeing the ROI benefits of investments in energy-saving tools.
When dealing with a large portfolio of commercial and/or or residential assets, cost savings from energy-efficient practices can drive dramatic net operating income (NOI) impact. Landlords are leveraging IoT tools to accomplish this.
One company helping landlords track energy usage, among other things, is Enertiv. Their platform takes on-site sensor data from elevators, chillers, pumps, exhaust fans, boilers, water meters, HVAC systems, lighting, and more to track energy usage, plan for maintenance, track air quality, measure occupancy counts, and mitigate damage from potential leaks. These systems all integrate with work order ticketing, the building management system, accounting systems, and energy management tools.
Other companies offering similar solutions are 75f, WegoWise, and Embue. Each one has a different spin on how they deliver this sort of value, but all work to lower utility and energy costs, help to streamline regulatory compliance needs, and deliver proactive maintenance directors from sensor data.
The most obvious applications for IoT in real estate are smart home and smart building use cases. Many of you probably have an Alexa at home, use a smart lock on your door, and/or have some sort of a remote temperature monitoring system at home. These sort of tools, among others, are working together to help streamline property management processes for property owners and managers.
The pandemic has accelerated a lot of innovation and adoption in these areas. Building entry points, door handles, stair doors, and elevators have been identified as major risk factors for COVID transmission. Property owners are deploying touchess solutions to these “choke points” to mitigate the risk of spread, which has "opened up the door" to streamline property management operations.
One company helping buildings do this is Latch. Latch’s core product is a smart lock for multifamily properties that allows residents to open the door with their smartphone and grant guest access remotely. The company also deploys intercoms and will be launching cameras soon.
Sitting on top of all of this is what the company calls “Latch Manager,” which helps manage access remotely for maintenance, showings, and other needs, while keeping a record of who opened a door and when. Other companies offering touchless and remote access to landlords are ButterflyMX, Zerv, and IOTAS.
One key benefit of these smart buildings solutions is the ability to offer “touchless showings” that allow a prospective resident to see a unit without a leasing agent, especially relevant now during the pandemic. To that end, virtual showings are another increasing trend as a result of the pandemic. VirtualAPT is a company using autonomous robots to help with this. The robots use cameras and sensors to create beautiful virtual showing collateral for property managers.
The Millionacres bottom line
IoT is delivering value to the bottom line for property owners -- from saving energy to making property management operations run more smoothly. External forces from the regulatory environment and the pandemic have and will continue to accelerate adoption. Similarly, residents of rental properties are learning to expect these sorts of tools as amenities, driven in many ways by Alexa and other DIY smart home technologies.
The phrase “Internet of Things” was coined over 20 years ago but is more relevant today than ever. It will be fun and valuable to see what other tools continue to be developed and deployed to help keep residents safer and happier, while enabling landlords to maximize the value of their assets.