The three most costly challenges faced by real estate in the education sector

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Challenge 1: capital intensive real estate

Universities have been experiencing an increase in student numbers for over 10 years. Previously, there had been an abundance of surplus space in these institutions. University buildings are not particularly flexible. They are often large buildings with a specific coherence to other university buildings. Conversions, renovations and newbuilds are very costly. Construction costs for universities are usually around € 3,000.- per m2 of gross floor area and far higher for laboratories – so, very capital intensive. If you make more efficient use of space, you need fewer square metres and that can make a difference in terms of how much space is needed.

If real-time insights pointed to a potential optimisation of 10% (which is realistic according to experts), construction costs could be reduced by an equivalent percentage. Less construction is better for the environment, better from a financial perspective, and it also benefits education and research (which is what universities are focused on).

Challenge 2: emergencies

Identifying concentrations of people and their movement via sensors enables you to detect notable movement and/or temperature increases. Security or emergency response teams – such as those found at universities – can then observe extraordinary situations on-screen. An algorithm could provide additional clarity (unexpected collective movements) to help narrow down the location of an emergency situation. Sensors can also effectively locate fires based on temperature increases. Time is of the essence: in an emergency situation, it’s important to quickly identify the location as accurately as possible so that responders can be directed to the right place.

Challenge 3: room environment conditions

Buildings are usually subject to a set of requirements, including indoor conditions – and universities have policies regarding this. Often, agreements will specify the indoor climate (temperature, CO2 levels, lighting, ventilation, etc.), for example in an SLA (service level agreement).

Agreements reached for this purpose include a payment for the use of space. Often, discussions will be held regarding whether the appropriate conditions for the space are being provided as needed, which can be very important for research.

An optimal indoor climate leads to improved performance. Sensors allow effective monitoring of the conditions within the space, allowing you to see, for example, whether the required conditions are available more than 90% of the time. In addition, improvements can be implemented in case of deviations and the results of those improvements monitored. Above all, it can be interesting to reach performance-oriented agreements with a construction and/or maintenance partner regarding conditions within a space.