Smarter Buildings are in Demand Thanks to COVID-19
A new KRC research report recently commissioned by Honeywell, 75% of surveyed U.S. facility managers say COVID-19 has caused them to permanently rethink how their facility operates. Nearly 60 percent of respondents are more likely to invest in indoor air quality optimization and other healthy building solutions, while up to 70 percent are now more willing to invest in smart building solutions.
"Rethinking Buildings Post-COVID-19," is the first in Honeywell's 2021 Building Trends series, and it introduces the challenges, priorities and assessments of surveyed facility managers in the United States, Germany, China and Saudi Arabia across the education, healthcare, data center and commercial real estate industries. It focuses on Covid-19's impact on building trends and facility managers' priorities — now and in the future.
"A notable transformation driven by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting U.S. facility leaders to reconsider their operational strategies and invest in smarter, healthier technologies," said Vimal Kapur, president and chief executive officer, Honeywell Building Technologies. "As occupants become more aware of how the buildings they use for work, school and care can affect their well-being, we expect them to push building owners and operators to implement new procedures with efficient, sustainable solutions that better support occupants' safety, comfort and enhance their experiences, not only for the immediate return to office but for the long term as well."
Facility Managers offer Five Keys Themes
The pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on facility management and operations. Three-quarters (75%) of surveyed U.S. facility managers indicate COVID-19 has prompted their facility to rethink its modes of operation. Many believe changes and upgrades made during the pandemic will be kept in place in some form; yet only 36% of those surveyed expect updates to the air quality system to remain permanent. COVID-19 is also driving facility managers to adjust their priorities and investments. For example, 62% are more likely to invest in indoor air quality optimization and other healthy building solutions and 56% are more willing to invest in occupant experience solutions like contactless building access, smart parking and personalized experiences.
COVID-19 remains a source of widespread unease. Among surveyed U.S. facility managers, nearly 1 in 4 (22%) mention pandemic-related issues as their top concern.
A healthy building is a top priority and will remain important. A majority (58%) of respondents consider having a healthy building a top priority, and 62% say it will continue to be a top priority post-pandemic. Improving indoor air quality ranks as the most important aspect of a healthy building for those working in healthcare and educational facilities, while those working in data centers and commercial real estate buildings cite cleaning procedures as their top priority.
Digital transformation of facilities is accelerating. Since COVID-19, more than half (54%) of respondents have seen digital transformation accelerate in pace as the need for remote facility management became more acute. More than 9 in 10 facility managers (93%) said that remote facility management is important now and 67% of respondents indicated they are more willing to invest in smart building solutions that drive efficiency or sustainability, including data aggregation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Contactless upgrades sought to improve the occupant experience. Surveyed U.S. facility managers said there is strong interest in upgrades such as improving indoor air quality, energy efficiency and sustainability efforts, and supporting an inviting and innovative building environment. Respondent input shows a gap in the technologies currently deployed in buildings. More than half of those surveyed say the buildings they manage do not have air quality solutions (57%), integrated lighting that improves occupant productivity (66%), contactless building entry (67%) or an app that provides real-time information on building health (73%).