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EXCLUSIVE: Transforming multifamily living with intelligent buildings

Multifamily building that is an intelligent building

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James Ensten, Vice President of Sales at Integrated Control Technology (ICT) takes a closer look at the intelligent building trends shaping occupancy and profitability in multifamily residential developments.

Intelligent buildings

In the current world of apartment living, one word echoes louder than ever: intelligence.

The multi-dwelling unit (MDU) industry in North America is witnessing a transformative wave as smart building technologies reshape the rental landscape.

As property managers, building owners and developers strive to meet the ever-evolving expectations of tenants, one thing has become abundantly clear: staying ahead in the game means embracing the future today.

Rising demand for smart living

In the race for resident retention and profitability, staying attuned to the latest trends is key.

Modern renters now expect the same level of convenience, high-tech amenities and security in their apartment buildings as they do in other aspects of their lives.

To thrive in this competitive market, property managers must deliver an exceptional living experience that aligns with these evolving expectations.

The backbone of an intelligent building

One of the cornerstones of the intelligent building revolution is the unification of fragmented systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, surveillance, intruder alarms and access control.

When managed independently, these systems create many inefficiencies and are more open to exploitation from outside actors who may seek to leverage potential vulnerabilities.

The transition towards unified management and ultimately a more seamless tenant experience in intelligent buildings, in line with these evolving expectations, is enabled by innovative technologies, such as Protege GX from ICT.

Acting as the central nervous system of the intelligent building, it seamlessly integrates these systems to create a secure and efficient living environment for today’s modern tenants.

Building intelligence meets profitability

As far back as 2010, the US Department of Energy has published studies saying that smarter use of technology could lead to energy savings of up to 20% without significant capital investment.

Connected devices that optimize heating, cooling and lighting based on occupancy and environmental factors are now more accessible than ever.

Intelligent building technologies, such as a smart thermostat have the potential to save residents (or property managers when a unit is vacant) up to 23% on energy consumption.

Further savings can also be made by minimizing the need for dedicated staff to manage disparate systems.

In addition, 73% of enterprise multifamily property managers who utilize smart tech solutions are seeing annual savings in their operating expenses.

Intelligent technologies are equally as valuable for operational savings as they are in creating new revenue.

Integrating smart security for peace of mind

Security is paramount for today’s renters.

Smart access control technology, extending from entrances to common areas and individual apartments, has emerged as a key driver of tenant satisfaction and increased peace of mind for property managers.

In fact, 86% of millennials are willing to pay 20% more for a dwelling with smart tech, such as electronic access, smart keyless locks, interconnected doorbells, mobile-controlled security, voice-activated assistants and other IoT devices.

Electronic locks, accessible through high-security mobile credentials and dedicated apartment apps, offer tenants a heightened sense of control over living spaces by creating more intelligent buildings.

One smart key from the perimeter to the penthouse

While wireless locks may offer keyless access to an individual apartment, the day-to-day bustle of multifamily living is let down by the need to juggle between an access card for the foyer or parking garage, to a secondary access card or mobile app for the lock at the apartment door.

Understanding the expectations of developers and the need to retain high-value tenants at desired occupancy levels, ICT has further enhanced its intelligent building offering by introducing a range of Protege Wireless Locks.

Offering native integration into the Protege GX ecosystem, the Protege Wireless Locking range consolidates multiple credentials into a single smart keycard or mobile credential for use throughout the entire building.

Tenants now get true seamless movement of the intelligent building from the perimeter to the penthouse.

Security installers benefit from the simplified programming and deployment of these locks by operating within a unified ecosystem.

Furthermore, property managers enjoy the added peace of mind that comes from delivering a high-quality, high-security multifamily living experience.

Personalization is key and door access needs to be more than functional; this is why ICT offers both cartridge mortise and motorized deadbolt locks with customizable reader covers, rose and handle options.

Compact and minimalist in design, the range can be styled to complement the aesthetics of any high-end multi-dwelling unit.

Embracing the home of things

The multifamily landscape isn’t only being reshaped by convenience and security; it’s also influenced by a connected lifestyle.

The concept of the home of things (HoT) is taking center stage. In HoT, physical objects within the base build common areas and throughout an individual apartment are embedded with sensors and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet or communication networks.

Predictive maintenance, made possible by these connected sensors and data analytics, ensures that critical infrastructure is maintained before issues arise, reducing downtime and inconvenience for residents and brings long-term cost savings for owners.

It’s worth noting that an increasingly connected world does bring some risks along with all the benefits. The primary concern with HoT devices is network security.

Connected devices can be vulnerable to attacks or intrusion/penetration, which means robust policies are needed to protect data privacy while keeping people and property safe.

Thanks to the convergence of security and IT, physical and network security are often now treated as one, helping mitigate these risks while bringing additional efficiencies.

The impact of generational shifts

To understand the driving forces behind the rise of intelligent building technologies, it’s essential to consider generational shifts.

The millennial generation (ages 27 to 42) has surpassed baby boomers as the largest living adult generation in the US.

Millennials are contributing to growing demand for multifamily living spaces. In 2022, the US apartment market set records for demand, occupancy and rent growth, toppling previous multi-decade peaks.

The tight labor market and unprecedented wage growth has seen a surge in rental demand from younger tenants, even with substantial rent increases.

The market is facing a severe shortage of rental housing at all price points, creating opportunities for property managers and developers to meet this demand.

Unified Protege ecosystem: an intelligent competitive edge

Unified access control and building management systems are not merely a trend, they are the cornerstone of the intelligent building movement, enabling higher occupancy rates, increased rental yields and long-term profitability.

Protege provides a level of control and convenience that aligns perfectly with the expectations of modern renters.

While the market is currently experiencing a shortage of rental housing, property managers and developers must recognize the immense potential of bringing together these key – but commonly fragmented – systems to bridge the gap.

As the pace of apartment construction accelerates, the multifamily industry is on the cusp of a transformation that will redefine the future of living.

Intelligent building technologies, with unified access control at their core, are driving the shift toward higher rental occupancy and rental yield.

From the perimeter to the penthouse, ICT offers a truly unified solution for seamless high-security movement and absolute peace of mind for residents and leasing agents alike.

All you need is the building and ICT will supply the rest. The future of living is here. It’s intelligent, secure and accessible like never before.

This article was originally published in the November edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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