How to Navigate the New World of Post-COVID Building Operations

ESG, Industry Insights

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, building operations unprecedentedly and fundamentally changed as occupancy fluctuated and tenants suddenly demanded what was once more of an afterthought: healthier buildings.

After two years of highly unpredictable waves of COVID-19 strains continuing to impact the way businesses operate, including varying occupancy rates, this new standard of complexity and volatility in building operations has the potential to continuously and seriously impact the bottom line for those who are not responding strategically.

Buildings need to be smarter, more responsive, and more technologically advanced to avoid wasting time, energy, and operations costs during the struggle to anticipate and react to fluctuating tenant demands and occupation. Luckily, there are options that are both affordable and convenient to help your buildings continue to adapt to the new realities and demands that the past two years have brought.

Keep reading to learn more about the these new realities and what options you have to stay on top of these demands.

New Demands of the New World

Not only have occupancy rates remained unpredictable over the last few months, but tenants are continuing to rethink how much space they need to house their employees. The growing demand of flexible and remote-work options that workers have placed upon their employers has brought a new demand, and systemic pressure, to the CRE industry, too – tenants are rethinking their need for the large spaces they have long occupied.

With a lost or downsized lease resulting in a major hit to the bottom line and a newfound unpredictability in future revenue, it’s become more important than ever to more tightly control asset-specific operating expenses. However, that’s easier said than done.

Why? To start, occupancy patterns are no longer as predictable as they were in the a pre-COVID world.

According to Haniel Lynn, CEO of Kastle Systems, “Based on access patterns of Kastle clients in over 2000 buildings nationwide tracked since the beginning of the pandemic, it seems likely that occupancy will continue to vary by region, generally [. . .] climbing more slowly in denser cities, like New York or San Francisco.”

Healthy Buildings, Happy Tenants

Adding yet another layer of complexity, when tenants are returning to the office, they’re bringing new demands along with them. A “healthy” building with fresher air quality is now seen as a dealbreaker for tenants; however, to obtain healthier, fresher air requires a building to circulate the air from the outside more often. 

This also becomes increasingly more difficult to do when unpredictable occupancy rates are factored in – for a building engineer to meet tenant demands when they don’t know when or where those tenants will be in the building can often prove to be a losing game.

However, there’s more at risk here than tenant comfort and healthier air quality. To accomplish all of this places a significantly higher demand of energy on the building, resulting in spikes in utility costs, greater risk of hitting costly new energy peaks, and setbacks to progress for initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.

Without access to data insights that will effectively aid engineers in navigating these changes, managing ongoing operating costs, tenant comfort, and carbon emissions will only become increasingly complex, challenging, and costly.

Protecting Your ESG Goals and Your Bottom Line

This next year will call for CRE leaders to rely on machine learning and other data-driven technology to help minimize the impact of fluctuations in occupancy rates and growing demands of tenants. Unexpected energy peaks that can cost tens of thousands of dollars each month, overextended HVAC usage when it is not needed, and compromised tenant comfort are all consequences of a building that cannot keep up with these ongoing changes.

Costs aside, toeing the line of increasing building health while remaining laser-focused on meeting decarbonization goals is nearly impossible without the aid of sustainability-focused data tools that can identify opportunities for energy reduction without compromising on the demands of your tenants at the same time.

Buildings that are using data-driven software to predict and protect the health of your buildings will navigate these changes with minimal impact, ensuring that your portfolio can adapt to volatile occupancy and avoid the costly effects of being behind the times.

Moving into the Future

So, now you know just how much of an impact COVID has had on building operations, and the larger impact it could have in the future as we adjust to our “new normal.” 

Our sustainability tech team is passionate about helping building owners and CRE leaders stay ahead of the times, which is why we offer free, custom decarbonization plans. Saving on energy and operations is a complex problem to solve, but Cortex Sustainability Intelligence can help you get on the right path towards creating smart, responsible, and sustainable buildings in the post-pandemic world.

Related Content

Image of forest around a lake on a cloudy day.

Harnessing AI for decarbonization of office buildings

Industry Insights

Commercial real estate (CRE) finds itself in the middle of ...

Photo of a large office building reflecting the blue sky.

Who is responsible for decarbonizing an office building?

Industry Insights

With ESG as a fairly new consideration within the CRE industry, some struggle to decide who in their organization should lead ESG efforts.

Should all new buildings be energy efficient?

Industry Insights

Should all new buildings be energy efficient? Read here to learn about the benefits of energy efficiency in new buildings.

Ready to learn more about Cortex? Let's chat.

From optimizing operations to making better decisions across your portfolio, Cortex helps you take action to achieve your decarbonization goals - today, tomorrow, and in 2030. Set up time with one of our experts to talk.