Things are happening on the office-building scene: faceless boxes with dreary cubicles for workers and a corner office for the boss—this nightmare cast in concrete is gradually becoming a thing of the past. The best of the new offices buildings look amazing: quasi weightless, transparent, open rather than off-putting, flexible rather than fixed. And to add to all that, the office is every bit as smart as the people in it.
This is because the building is able to think for itself—above all, with respect to energy consumption, for modern office buildings like “The Edge” in Amsterdam actually produce more energy than they consume. A concept that has become the new standard in residential building (think: passive house), is now becoming the norm in office buildings as well. Conceived by OVG Real Estate jointly with and for the international consulting company Deloitte, The Edge is now one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable buildings.
More solar energy than the staff and the building consume
The glass facade lets in lots of light without the solar radiation affecting the inside temperature. Highly efficient solar panels protect the building from heating up and generate solar energy—more, in fact, than is required for heating, cooling, smartphones, laptops, and the staff’s electrically powered vehicles. Two groundwater wells 130 meters deep supply warm and cold water for, respectively, heating or cooling the building.
Lighting and air conditioning at each work station can be regulated contactless by each person via the Philips app on their smartphone.
Meanwhile this concept has gone into series production – with the OVG subsidiary EDGE Technologies, which is already developing several similar projects, such as the EDGE Grand Central at the main railway station in Berlin.
Where digital natives reside
Another smart office building deserving of admiration is located in the German capital. “Cube berlin” is the prototype for a networked, digitalized CA Immo building. Not only does it have the usual sophisticated building services that are to be found in many buildings today, but it also networks them with a central computer system.
This will allow the building control system to learn both from the modes of operation of the building and from user behavior. Here, too, users communicate with the smart house via app. Ideal for the “Y generation” who have grown up with smartphones. “Navigating their way through the building, booking flexible workstations, ordering meals or adjusting the light and temperature settings to suit individual needs: the app manages all these things and looks for parking spaces into the bargain,” Dr. Hans Volkert Volckens, CEO of CA Immo, explains.
Tested by professional hackers
Individuality leaves a mark on workstations. Cube berlin offers single and group work stations, hot desks or permanent places to work, depending on what the users need for their individual work situations. The operation of the building and hence its energy consumption can be actively influenced and tailored to user requirements, no matter where they are in the building.
CA Immo, which developed and implemented Cube berlin, not only uses innovations to make working processes more efficient but also for the associated security issues: “Access authorization is only processed in-house via Bluetooth, and data are collected and transmitted via secure connections,” Volckens assures me. Professional hackers test all the systems so that potential security gaps can be identified and fixed at the pre-installation stage. Personal data, such as those required for access control, are collected and processed in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the German Federal Data Protection law as a matter of course. Because smart working is supposed to raise the creative and efficiency potential, not to control staff.