January 5, 2015

Nigeria Edging Closer to Smarter Buildings

Dolapo Omidire

Fascination and interest in smart and automated building technology has grown exponentially over the past decade. This technology typically refers to buildings with automatic centralised controls of lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security as well as those that have energy and waste saving capabilities.

As Jones Lang LaSalle explains, the promise of smart building technology extends far beyond energy efficiency and waste reduction, it can potentially change the way we work and live in the future. These technologies improve operational performance, enable better capital planning and will serve as the drivers for high performance real estate moving forward.

Interest in this space in Nigeria is seemingly growing, and it comes as no surprise considering the sustained rise in upmarket real estate developments across Lagos, especially within the luxury residential and mixed use commercial sectors. This means there will be more competition between developers to acquire office occupiers, homebuyers and tenants or to make their assets more attractive to prospective investors. A growing number of technology savvy consumers is also driving the increased interest.

The entry of a few companies into Nigeria in providing these services could also indicate that demand for these services is picking up. In an emailed note, eVision, an international company explained that the basis of their entry into the Nigerian market was to use their expertise in technology infrastructure and engineering to aid the growth of a rapidly developing country like Nigeria. eVision is a system integrator that provides high-end audio-video, communication systems, lighting control, control systems, security systems, and video conferencing solutions into one solution. Established over 30 years ago, they have worked with many corporates in the Middle East and have also offered their services to various members of the Royal Family in the Saudi Kingdom.

For developers, this system is a good way to distinguish them from the competition and create a unique selling point for their properties. So far, we’ve seen the developers behind Heritage Place and Nestoil Towers promise to deliver LEED certified buildings, which will be achieved through the incorporation of a host of energy and resource saving technologies as well as building sustainably. On the residential side, this trend appears to be more of a luxury for wealthy homeowners. While there are always developers who are willing to go the extra mile, the average one may not be willing as they are already paying sky high land acquisition, transaction and construction costs to get their properties onto the market.

Global interest in this space has also grown, as Google recently acquired Nest labs for $3.2bn earlier this year. Nest produces a thermostat capable of learning user behaviour and working out whether a building is occupied or not, using temperature, humidity, activity and light sensors.

Over the next few years as competition for buyers/tenants ramps up and as they become more technologically inclined, we should start to see these technologies incorporated in more buildings across the country.

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