For sustainability as a concept, practice and brand, the digital age has revolutionised the forms and scales of information we are able collect, analyse and compartmentalise about our environments.
Technology has made the invisible visible. With popular discussions surrounding health and wellbeing and the WELL Building Standard, technology is already being applied in exciting ways, such as indoor air quality devices in offices and homes which intelligently monitor and display information for room temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and particulate matter. A smiley face appears if the environment is ideal.
On the one hand, this information has brought a new voice to users of space, such as occupiers within buildings who have the ability to measure and monitor their environments. On the other hand, it is attempting to quantify something that was previously seen as unquantifiable. Nourishment, comfort, and mind are just 3 of the 7 concepts of the WELL Building Standard which seek to analyse occupant health and well-being based on key proxies, such as circadian lighting and access to fruit and vegetables.
The key question is: Would the same conclusions be made without technology?
In a building without intelligent air quality devices, or if a person did not have access to an air quality app in the City of London, it is not possible to identify that CO2 or particulate matter level is above average and therefore intolerable. In this case, people simply coped because they did not know. The fact is, information has made people more in touch with their environments; however at the same time it imposes a structure to what is ideal and not ideal, for example, smiley faces and sad faces.
The message is clear: people are becoming more aware of their environments and technology has triggered new ways of thinking about sustainability.
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For example, tenants and landlords need to have better discussions on how office spaces are being used. It is through technology that better landlord-tenant engagements can take place to embed the issues of sustainability and health and wellbeing into lease agreements, fit-outs, on-going building designs and operation.
So the next time you check the temperature in your office space or reach out to grab a muffin at arm’s length from your desk; think of the ways this information is being captured.
Technology is always watching!
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