Knowing what makes a building tick ...

Energy prices are rising. The construction and real estate industry can no longer avoid this fact. When the bill arrives, at the latest, it becomes clear that something has to change if buildings are to continue to be managed efficiently. The pressure for more sustainability in property and asset management is not new. At the latest since the latest regulations regarding ESG and climate protection, the topic is more present than ever. But how can the change succeed?

The basis for sustainable savings is data. Only those who know what makes a building tick, what processes take place between concrete and steel or, ideally, alternative building materials, and how many resources are consumed where, can identify potential and derive measures for optimization. It is important not to take the last step before the first. The goal is to achieve savings and efficient processes. But before that, a data basis must be created on which to build everything else.

With the Meltingport project in Hamburg, the real estate developers NORD PROJECT and GBI, together with the digital property manager Reos, are demonstrating the possibilities of targeted data use and digital building management. In the eastern part of HafenCity, a new urban quarter is to be built by the end of 2025 on a total of 23,569 square meters of residential and commercial space, in which building data can be experienced by management as well as residents and visitors.

The virtual presentation of data is intended to give all stakeholders an awareness of the complexity of the processes in the neighborhood and create transparency. In addition, the digital status quo serves to highlight potential for possible optimization and savings. For example, the consumption of water and heating is listed anonymously on each floor. High consumption levels are immediately apparent and encourage sustainable adjustments to usage behavior. As one of the first properties, the urban quarter also benefits from the latest findings of the DROPS research project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Kilmaschutz. In a practical and interdisciplinary way, several consortium partners are developing data standards for the intelligent real estate of tomorrow. This closes the digitalization gap between housing, work and research.

The project in HafenCity is a mix of office, hotel, subsidized and privately financed micro-living apartments. All parts of the building are connected by the same Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure. In this way, individual hardware and software components can communicate with each other. Example: In the Meltingport, doors are not opened with a key, but simply via a neighborhood app. For this purpose, the app communicates with the respective lock that is to be opened. A digital request to open the door is sent, and if authorization is given, the door opens with just one click in the app. The same applies to mailboxes and parcel stations.

The high level of innovation can be seen in the data café in the new development quarter. Here, in addition to coffee and cake, data streams are "served", i.e. visualized and made tangible. Information on the use of space and buildings, routing and logistics, security, and consumption data from the entire quarter flow together and provide a real-time overview of what is happening in all parts of the building on the walls of the café.

By means of interactive graphics, screens and dashboard displays, residents and guests get to know the neighborhood in a completely new way and gain insights into its complexity. In addition, the property management receives important information about the condition of the installed building technology. Is the heating running? Is the elevator running? Are the ventilation flaps intact? Is maintenance necessary? In the past, technical failures were often first noticed by tenants and then passed on to property management by telephone. In the Meltingport, however, all building data is available to the property management at any time. Reos is responsible for data processing together with HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU). In addition to various software solutions, self-developed visualization formats are used. In the future, the use of virtual reality glasses for a 3D experience is also conceivable. It is already certain that the Meltingport project will create a completely new digital living experience.

By Tom Leppin. Tom Leppin is a smart building expert and managing director of Reos GmbH.