With the United States’ economy moving at a good pace, we should expect a lot of real estate companies to give their existing buildings a technology makeover, if they want to remain competitive and maintain high occupancy rates. Buildings with only 20th-century amenities are not going to solve tenants’ 21st-century challenges and are not going to be viable or marketable in the major commercial markets.
For decades, most commercial office buildings were built with a single connection to the phone company’s central office and a single connection to the power company’s substation. That is an obsolete approach for both power and connectivity if you are going to attract and maintain corporate tenants who have mission-critical applications running within their enterprise networks. As I have written in past columns, resiliency is an essential term many organizations are becoming aware of as they implement more mission-critical applications. One out of three applications are considered mission-critical today. That number is growing to one out of two applications. Robust networks and power sources need to support these enterprise-wide applications.
That observation translates to defining the vast potential 2019 market for electrical contractors and vendors who focus on retrofitting buildings and campuses (multiple buildings) with intelligent amenities (redundant power and redundant broadband connectivity). It is a big market, and it won’t be finished anytime soon.
What to look for
The market for adding redundant intelligent amenities is huge. Many commercial buildings in all metropolitan areas need to be retrofitted, including government buildings. Suburban campuses where you have clusters of buildings can also be a source for major retro work. No one can afford to have any single points of failure in the electronic infrastructure that supports their businesses.
Competition for Class A tenants is fierce. Inferior buildings within municipalities that do not have a strong platform for commerce will not attract new corporate tenants. Municipalities need to understand the importance of redundancy and resiliency as it pertains to regional economic development and job creation as well.
In some cases, power companies are giving incentives for building owners and property management firms to upgrade their infrastructure and become more energy efficient. All electrical contractors should become aware of what these incentive programs are and how they can market to the real estate industry to piggyback onto the retrofitting initiatives.
When you look at large headquarters buildings like Amazon and others, all of them want state-of-the-art facilities and will pass over buildings and business campuses that do not offer redundant power and redundant broadband connectivity. Plus, it’s not just the requirement for redundancy, it’s the requirement for diversity in the cabling routes as well.
The six R’s of mission-critical systems
The six R’s of mission-critical systems (reliability, redundancy, robustness, resiliency, resistance to attacks, and rigorous regular testing) should be adhered to in designing and installing all important intelligent infrastructure (redundant network and power grids).
These are the areas to analyze and update if a building is in a highly competitive area and corporate tenants are talking about utilizing cloud computing, big data analytics, mission-critical applications, and all the other computer system and data center buzzwords that demand an infrastructure that can support them without a single point of failure.
As observed earlier this year, when it comes to existing buildings and business parks, trying to regain a competitive edge in the market means rebuilding the supporting infrastructure to include redundant broadband connectivity and redundant power systems. Intelligent business campuses providing this level of infrastructure support is what corporate site selection committees are looking for. Anything else is deficient.
Depending on where you are in the country, there may be some local programs and special funding to be aware of as well as federal government funding initiatives.
These building retrofit programs (BRPs) are not limited to the United States. South Korea has had a BRP program for 10 years. They have focused on becoming more energy efficient and have created funding to improve commercial buildings throughout South Korea. They started in 2008 with government buildings then expanded into the private sector and commercial buildings. By 2013, South Korea had approximately 14,000 different types of buildings participating in their BRP program.
Looking into the start of 2019, we all must remember and sell our customer base this strategy: Tomorrow is not the time to start building for tomorrow. Future regional viability tomorrow depends on building and maintaining a solid, resilient infrastructure today.
Happy Holidays to all and wishing all a healthy, prosperous, and safe New Year.