102 million square feet, that is the amount of vacant office space across the UK recorded in March of this year. This to me is mind blowing and plays on my mind every time I am designing new or refurbished office spaces as there will be un-used office equipment throughout these vacant spaces.
So recently a couple of my CAT A office designs have hit the construction phase and are becoming reality. However, there is one thing which I cannot process which I believe occurs throughout the industry, the amount of waste which can accumulated from a CAT B fitout.
This is where my BCO NextGen idea, the TechTag, comes into play of combining Smart Technology with Asset Tagging. Smart Technology can be utilised in a magnitude of ways, from energy reporting to booking a hot desk or even climate control. Asset Tagging allows each item of equipment to have a unique identifier enabling accurate and efficient inventory tracking. But why stop there?
If we are to use the TechTag combine asset tagging with mechanical and electrical equipment within offices, we would be able to combine the baseline information of the luminaire, the fan coil unit, the pump on a floor and combine this with the smart features for each piece of kit. So, what a building would have a is a smart asset register allowing building users, manufacturers, FM teams, building owners, to see what they have in the building in real time, (for example, number of hours run, energy used, runtime capacity, etc.). The smart database doesn’t have to be limited to MEP equipment. I was selfishly thinking about it from this perspective as MEP contributes approximately 25% of embodied carbon for an average office according to the London Energy Transformation Initiative or LETI as some of you may know it as. Using the TechTag as a circular economy tool would enable this total to reduce, with massive potential.
Ultimately my idea would enable an asset database to be formed on a Developer portfolio scale, or bigger, a city-wide scale or even bigger on a nationwide scale. Therefore, allowing a team to identify any unused office equipment which may be in perfectly good working order which could be used in a new development or refurbishment without having to buy new. The smart asset tag would have all of the manufacturer data, operational use all logged from Day 1.
So, the FM Team could look up the database and see there are 1000 unused luminaires which have been ripped out as part of a CAT A / CAT B fitout, but they have only been on 40 hours in 1 month to show the floor to prospective tenants. They can buy these at a ‘like new’ cost to install in their new building.
How does this big idea become reality you ask? Let me explain.
Warranties for example. If a system is being removed from Building A and reinstalled in Building B the asset owner will require having a level of certainty so manufacturers/system suppliers will need to be involved. One way would be to send off a test sample (say 5% of the luminaires with the smart asset tag information) to be tested to gain short term warranties, say 3 instead of 7 years. Or the suppliers visit the complete install on site to snag and commission the system to ensure it is operational with an ongoing service contract.
The Platform Management. If the Developer has a large enough portfolio their smart asset database could be solely for their estate allowing them to move their CAT A install from floor to floor or building to building. Or if the database was nationwide there would need to be an independent 3rd part who managed the certification and confirmed the quantity / quality of the equipment being added to the system for other developers to use. Either way, this would still allow the user/occupier to understand the exact product and the operational data for the equipment they were purchasing.
Overall, with the principles of the TechTag being implemented, it would allow developers, cities, or even countries to work collaboratively to drive a change of how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle MEP equipment for future developments.
Let us embrace and utilise the potential of smart technology as an industry and tag our way to healthier planet.
Alan Stuart / Associate / Manchester