Realty sector adopts sustainable solutions for existing, new buildings, says Netix Controls CEO

Most key economic sectors have made it a top priority to build sustainable solutions to ensure growth and development.

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Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 12 Mar 2022, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Mar 2022, 10:04 PM

The booming property sector in the UAE is witnessing a huge shift in its fundamentals with a pressing need to save on energy consumption by deploying sustainable solutions in existing properties as well as new constructions.

The realty market has been influenced by long-standing inefficiencies, archaic operating models, proprietary protocols, and high carbon and energy footprint in buildings. According to United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for 40 per cent of global energy consumption and emit one-third of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The UAE is at the forefront with its strategic initiative to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, making the nation the first in Mena region. Most key economic sectors have made it a top priority to build sustainable solutions to ensure growth and development.

Netix Controls is currently working with leading developers like Emaar, Damac, and Al Mazaya, among others to help catalysing the process of ‘zero carbon’ emissions by helping them make their existing properties sustainable and eco-friendly.

“A vast majority of existing buildings are grappling with legacy, multi-vendor systems that are inefficient, energy-intensive, heavy on the operational expenditure, and not easily replaceable due to proprietary protocols. Whether you are an owner, a tenant, a facility manager, a climate action advocate, or a government official, it is a cause for concern across the board,” said Sanjeevv Bhatia, CEO of Netix Controls.

“Previously, however, any redressal action was either expensive or piecemeal, with no means to quantify the achievable outcomes. We are now able to make a strong business case for buildings’ ‘right to repair’.”

Netix Controls is planning expansion across the region with a total investment of Dh37 million expected to be spent across 2022 on establishing a stronger footprint across the region. The company will be opening offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Also appointment of new country managers for Kuwait, and Bahrain as well as senior international talent has joined the teams in UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The necessary shift

With a range of automation and management systems, and units such as HVAC, lighting, and conveyor systems, buildings’ road to holistic optimisation is anything but straightforward. The problems, however, have less to do with systems’ standalone issues and more to do with their inability to communicate and integrate with each other. This arises due to multiple vendors and vendor-specific lock-ins, which hamper interoperability. Due to siloed systems, a vast amount of usable data remains unanalysed, while building owners continue to helplessly deal with multiple vendors. Most often, the solutions that proprietary systems offer are expensive upgrades and fixes, requiring owners to spend more money without the complete utilisation of the benefits. “Problems associated with proprietary protocols inspired Netix’s “Android Approach” — an open-protocol framework similar to the Android OS, which is open-source, easy to operate on, and more accommodative to new additions,” explained Bhatia. “The idea is to enable real estate stakeholders to either upgrade the BMS with better open-protocol architecture or refurbish the existing BMS and only repair/replace the faulty peripherals, without dumping the high-ticket item or facing vendor resistance.” And such a shift entails increased IoT and AI applications, which eliminate silos, increase connectivity, and centralise command and control.

Tech-driven repair

IoT platforms like Netix Konnect replace siloed and decentralised building operations with a centralised, cloud-enabled model that offers deep-dive visibility across all systems. This is particularly beneficial to owners with portfolios of multiple buildings, which can now be monitored, managed, and optimised at once, using data-driven insights. This has wide-ranging implications for asset and vendor management, workforce productivity, savings, occupant/tenant experiences, and, most importantly, the building’s sustainability.

“The promise of IoT and AI application in any industry or domain is higher efficiency. The same goes for building operations — you can replace laborious and reactive ways with more automated and proactive actions, unlocking multi-fold value in the process. With features such as auto fault detection and diagnosis, centralised control, energy management, and end-user customisable condition-based alerts, old buildings that adopt IoT platforms can exercise their ‘right to repair’ and turn state-of-the-art,” revealed Bhatia. However, he believes that, as service providers, it is important to quantify the value that tech-led interventions can unlock in a building.

“While software-only platforms will lead to considerable savings, they pale in comparison to what a software-hardware interplay can bring. This is the rationale behind our Novus Partner Programme, which leads to greater savings through synergistic solutions. We have registered a 50 per cent reduction in both operational expenditure and skilled-labour requirements while avoiding system breakdowns by 80 per cent. These are demonstrable results,” asserted Bhatia.

Currently, old buildings are yet to be brought under the IoT and AI purview, forward-thinking developers are subscribing to the ‘right to repair’ movement. “We are investing in cutting-edge technologies in response to market needs. Soon, with old buildings yearning for new beginnings, we could witness a brownfield revolution,” concluded Bhatia. —

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