In recent years, smart buildings that use integrated processes, smart engineering, or creative design to self-regulate their environment and operations have been on the rise.
Daily News Egypt sat down with Osama Bekhit, Founder and Managing Director of 365 Ecology, to find out about the industry’s future in Egypt.
Egypt has allocated EGP 36.7bn in the FY 2020/2021 budget to implement 691 green projects. How do you think this will benefit the smart buildings industry?
First and foremost, it’s awareness. One of the biggest challenges that faces the “Green and smart building” is to create a demand, despite the challenge they have in their financial model due to the higher initial cost.
The intervention of the Egyptian Government through setting regulations and financing builders to match will kick start these trends in the real estate industry.
365 Ecology is currently working on a series of strategic plans that are aligned with Egypt’s Vision 2030 for the efficient use of natural resources. It is our vision and aim to elevate the industry, and reach the highest standards of sustainable development within the real estate industry, providing the market and building occupants with the comfort and wellness they deserve.
What benefits does a smart building offer to society and the community? What are the benefits for those living and working in smart buildings?
Smart buildings are a proactive structure in relation to their surroundings, as they respond to people’s actions and the change in the surrounding environment.
Smart buildings do the mundane tasks of turning on the lights or adjusting the air conditioning that we often forget to do or do less frequently than it needs to optimise our energy use.
How is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changing the smart building market? What technologies and business opportunities are you seeing that were created out of the pandemic?
The most prominent changes to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic will be most prominently seen in the designs, in which new foundations will be taken into account for social distancing and the reduction of occupancy rates in buildings of all kinds. This is in addition to increasing the ventilation ratios in buildings, so that they are more than the usual rate, whilst also focusing heavily on air purification and sterilisation systems.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved to us that we can work smart, and that work is no longer about the amount of time we spend in our offices, but that it is about the performance and the results we achieve regardless of the place.
Usually conventional buildings are static, they are designed for one use, and they don’t change. But if I am going to work from my living room in the morning, then watch a movie and eat dinner at the same room, I have to change to accustom all these different purposes and uses, and for different people.
Moreover, a smart building that can change the behaviour of its systems as per its users takes the industries that depends on the facility like administration buildings, co-working spaces, and hotels to a whole new level. It also changes the way these places are operated and managed.
Globally, buildings consume about 40% of all energy. How do you think smart buildings can help in reducing this share?
Smart buildings can change this number to a great extent, as their ability to adapt and change constantly and drastically impacts a building’s energy consumption.
Since the smart building is aware of its occupants needs, it has the ability to constantly change its systems’ performance to match their exact need.
What are 365 Ecology’s success stories in introducing smart and green solutions to the Egyptian market?
365 Ecology always taps into a gap in the market in providing a convenient and cost-effective solution for it. We did that before in the air conditioning market and we are doing it again in smart buildings.
We launched a new building in Maadi, operated by MQR co-working spaces, which offers a variety of spaces like offices, meeting rooms, training rooms, and shared areas. The building is equipped with a range of sensors and devices that monitor its users’ behaviour, and the change in the surrounding environment and react accordingly.
The building is also easy to operate, as the building administrator can monitor the occupancy of all its spaces, manage users’ and visitors’ access, and control all the building systems like air conditioning and lighting from his desk.
365 Ecology has been a part of some of Egypt’s largest projects across multiple new cities. We are involved in a group of projects in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), and we’re currently working on the Pioneers Mall which is the first administrative mall in the NU zone. Also in the NAC, we took part in the engineering of energy solutions for the European University.
We’re currently working on Bibliotheca Alexandrina renovations in its HVAC and ventilation systems. Additionally, we are very proud to be part of major projects that place Egypt on the map of infrastructure and development like the Dubai Ports World, Amazon warehouses, and Cairo Stadium renovations, where we offered our HVAC solutions.
What other sectors of smart buildings solutions are you eyeing next?
Small and medium size administration buildings and work places are our current focus, as we see a huge challenge for their owners and operators to find a cost effective building management solution, so we are up for this challenge.
What role is 365 Ecology playing in raising awareness on the smart buildings industry?
We believe that the best way to raise awareness about new technologies is by making them a reality, give people the opportunity to use them and see them in action. Then they will get used to it, and it will be easier to start imagining their lives with smart buildings.
That is why we started by having our latest projects, called “MQR”, in Maadi, as a living proof of what technology can do to smart buildings.