What new model will the real estate sector adopt as we move into a digital world?


Emmanuel François, Chairman, SBA, and Sales Manager West Europe, EnOcean GmbH

The COVID-19 crisis has undeniably accelerated certain latent trends generated by digital technology. As nearly 4.5 billion people were forced into lockdown at the same time, an event totally without precedent in the history of humankind, digital technology has proven able to facilitate a relative degree of business continuity, thereby highlighting the fact that other ways of life are possible. This has of course concerned work with remote working practices, but also education, retail, healthcare, culture, leisure activities, etc.

While all stakeholders in the real estate sector had already been thinking about this social revolution, they must now face a genuine disruption to practices which must be long-term, encouraged by environmental and economic challenges.

This revolution in practices led by the functionality economy is now inviting us to fundamentally rethink the way our society is organized, starting with buildings, mobility and towns and cities, on the basis of digital technology and taking the needs of the environment into consideration.

While buildings were most often dedicated to one specific use with a defined level of services, under the impact of digital technology, they are now becoming plural, multi-functional and subject in real time to service objectives providing significant added value. The value of a building is therefore no longer limited only to its precise location and shell, for example, but is now also going to include connectivity and the level of services which it is able to offer. It is important also for a building to be able to integrate its environment and interact in real time with its surroundings in order to offer pooled services on the scale of an entire neighborhood, starting with energy, space management and mobility.

The vision promoted by SBA is set out in its “Ready2Services” (R2S) guidelines which define the performance of a building in terms of connectivity, with service packages broken down into R2S 4Grids, R2S 4Mobility, R2S 4 Health&Wellbeing… and this is shared by Covivio, owner of the first R2S-certified building and one of the pioneers currently testing R2S 4Grids. Covivio decided very early on to make rapid changes to its property portfolio to respond to these new demands and make an active contribution to this in-depth change, in line with fundamental values such as the protection of the environment and solidarity.