Future-proofing buildings for tomorrow

Digital retrofits are poised to act as the impact multiplier, future proofing smart buildings.


Modernization is the name of the game for real estate owners in a rapidly evolving post-pandemic market with changing tenant/occupant expectations. Competition is on the rise and owners need to adapt, in order to enhance the experience for users while simultaneously boosting efficiency and value.

Amid this clamor to modernize and improve efficiency, retrofitting is being globally recognized as the only viable solution to help building owners and FMs transition massive old building stock to the future era of modern, service-led, smart buildings. Retrofitting drives efficiency and sustainability across operations, opening up manifold benefits to building owners and FMs, from a regulatory, sustainability, and financial perspective.

But why are there still apprehensions surrounding ‘retrofitting’? Why are building owners intimidated by retrofits? These are some common concerns shared by real estate owners:

1) The heavy investment required for a full-fledged physical retrofit is a deterrent, and;

2) The time and effort involved in installing physical retrofit solutions, compounded by a slow return on investment hampers adoption intent.

This brings us to the obvious next question. Is there a way for legacy structures to quickly meet modern real estate expectations and address the concerns of CREs? The answer lies in new-age digital retrofit.

Reinventing efficiency and sustainability with digital retrofit

So why is digital retrofit the ‘next big thing’ for the building & facilities management industry? Simply put, it allows the industry to concurrently achieve multiple efficiencies that address the entire range of optimal requirements. To be relevant tomorrow, buildings need to modernize to effective structures that can stand the test of time and change human needs & expectations. One can no longer focus only on maintenance of facilities & machines, on occupant comfort or on sustainability. All three factors need to be addressed simultaneously, through an integrated solution that empowers all stakeholders and improves day-to-day operational efficiency.

Centrally unified automation systems that leverage an IoT and Machine Learning edge for portfolio-wide predictive operations, can revitalize existing infrastructure at much lower costs than pure hardware retrofits. From an automation perspective, a digital retrofit quickens the modernization process by enhancing, rather than replacing, existing infrastructure, eliminating or minimizing waste, and enabling a harmonious and continuous efficiency across operations.

Making legacy buildings smarter, sustainable and more efficient no longer remains a distant, capital-intensive dream. Digital retrofits and CaFM can ensure maximum enhancement in performance, with minimal additional investment. Digital Retrofit is to the building industry what Industry 4.0 is to the manufacturing sector. It leverages technology to connect the 3 integral parts of a building – people, energy and assets, in real-time. Instead of requiring large investments in capital costs, time and manpower to replace existing machinery, one can deploy modern digital enhancements, in tandem with existing in situ equipment.

The making of a new ‘smarter’, more efficient building

Why should real estate owners take the plunge and opt for a digital retrofit? The answer is simple – efficiency. Exorbitant bills and assets reaching the end of their lifespan, are concerns that plague many legacy buildings. The key to reducing costs is enhancing efficiency of operations, maintenance, workforce, and energy. Through digital retrofits, owners can boost the value of their buildings, while simultaneously transitioning into more sustainable practices.

When we talk about retrofits, it often conjures up images of heavy investments and a time and resource intensive process involving hardware replacement and overhaul. A digital and software-driven retrofit, using technologies like IoT & AI, involves a completely different approach. It offers the next frontier to modernize facilities with lesser hassle and investment unlike in traditional retrofits.

While physical hardware retrofits are also essential for buildings, the industry now needs to look beyond traditional energy-saving plug-ins and towards digital revamping and enhancement, which drive continuous efficiency in daily operations.

Beyond physical retrofit: Using software to integrate people, energy and assets

As the criticality of modernizing built assets accelerates, the built environment is seeking a unified approach to reduce the complexity of efficiently managing the various components of buildings – assets, people and sustainability. And data has become a critical asset and tool to drive this efficiency. Much like the technology and data-led revolution of other industries, CRE owners and facilities managers are today seeking an enterprise-wide data platform for facilities operations and maintenance (O&M), designed specifically for the real estate and FM industry’s needs, and infused with AI & ML intelligence to empower insights-based decision making. Such a unified platform can allow the industry to break away from the siloed and reactive operations of legacy systems, by collecting and collating data in real-time from across the multitude of systems existing in a building, enabling portfolio-wide visibility, and the ability to scale insight-led efficiencies across all assets/portfolios.

Creating customer-centric solutions through intelligent retrofit

Digital retrofit involves adding a sophisticated enterprise-wide software platform that helps to coherently drive efficiency in operations and maintenance by collating data from across multiple systems and sensors, and adding intelligence to empower insight-led decision-making. It helps building owners gain ownership of their data and greater visibility into performance to be able to actively drive the efficiency of their building operations across portfolios. The connectivity of IoT and the intelligence of AI & ML yields real-time insights, helping management to respond faster to tenant needs, ensuring a superior customer experience.

Digitally leapfrogging building assets into a sustainable future

Retrofitting built assets is high on the global agenda. Occupiers / Tenants are increasingly favoring real estate that aligns with their ESG values, and landlords are more actively seeking for buildings to be NABERS, GreenStar, GRESB and WELL certified. This makes Australia a hotbed for tech-led innovation such as digital retrofitting. Real estate owners and facility managers need to grab every opportunity they get to transform building operations with cutting-edge technologies and set higher benchmarks for tenant experiences. Digital retrofitting could very well be the way to future-proofing buildings for a better tomorrow.


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