What are sustainability services in real estate?
These are the services that are offered in the residential area to make it a vibrant, future-proof and sustainable neighborhood.
These include services such as providing heat and cooling to residents. Or the management of electric car charging stations, smart management of electricity, local water purification, green management, etc..
The residents become customers of the service provider (for example, an energy service company or esco) who manages them.
In this way, the residents can enjoy extra comfort, fast service and added value from the sustainability in their homes. They pay a fee for this in proportion to their consumption. And/or a fixed fee for maintenance and repairs.
What are the advantages for the inhabitants?
The main advantage is that the service model completely unburdens the occupants of the technology and maintenance of their installations. In the long term, they are not faced with unforeseen costs, because they pay a fixed monthly fee.
This covers the maintenance, repairs and reinvestments. Moreover, they are sure that the service-manager will do everything in his power to manage the technology well. And to offer the customer a good service, because this has a direct impact on their profits.
After all, by organizing the services collectively, it becomes cheaper per user.
What are the advantages for the real estate developer or city/municipality?
A service provider who is responsible for the service always thinks in the long term and delivers future-proof technologies. As a result, the project fits well within the climate ambitions of cities and towns.
A service provider will also be well aware of the changing regulatory framework so there will be no surprises during the construction process, resulting in smooth financing.
The real-estate is also built with one uniform set of techniques, allowing for standardization, resulting in lower costs. Moreover, the service provider’s experience with innovative techniques ensures a smoother commissioning process and thus greater customer satisfaction.
Which services can be offered?
The as-a-service model is applicable to everything that is sold. A very well-known example is light-as-a-service, where lamps are no longer sold but it is a lighting service to the customer.
In the construction sector, there is a strong interest in which products can constitute an added value to be offered as a service.
As Circular, we see great added value for the following services:
Heat and cold
People need heat to heat their homes in winter or take a hot shower. On the other hand, cooling is desirable in hot summers. The production of heat and cold can be done sustainably using heat pumps and will often be organized collectively in large-scale real estate developments.
For example, a collective boiler room is provided that generates the heat from the sustainable source (soil, air, water, etc.) and transports it to the individual residential units. In the unit, there is a delivery station that delivers and distributes the heat or cold in the home.
When residents use this service, they will pay a variable fee for the annual consumption of heat/cold and a fixed fee for the connection/maintenance to the collective installation. The owner/tenant does not have to worry about the collective infrastructure.
Electric car charging stations
The shift to electric vehicles has begun, and with good reason. An electric car is 3 to 4 times more economical in consumption than the most efficient combustion engines.
To charge electric cars, a good electrical infrastructure is needed. And the proper handling of payment to relieve the residents.
In order to provide sufficient charging convenience, a medium-voltage cabin is needed, which will enable the residents to charge more quickly. Moreover, they will not have to take into account the new capacity tariff that will soon be applied in Flanders. Smart collective control ensures the best possible cost efficiency. The use of this electric charging infrastructure can be offered to residents as a service. Public charging stations can also be provided for visitors.
Local water circularity & green management
Water management will become increasingly important in Belgium. Our climate is becoming less and less predictable with more intense rainshowers and potentially longer dry spells. This puts a lot of pressure on our current water system, so we need to look at how we can use the water we have in a smarter way through local purification and reuse. Think for example of the smart use of treated gray water from showers and dishwashers for flushing toilets. This leaves more rainwater to keep the environment green.
The management of these water technologies, always in relation to the green environment or other vectors such as heat recovery from gray wastewater, can also be offered to residents as a service.
Some waste streams may have added value to be processed and reused locally. For example, fruit and vegetable waste is rich in organic matter and can be used as a soil improver.
It could be considered whether the management of composting or the keeping of chickens could be done communally in the form of a service.
Local energy community
When all the above services are managed together by one party it is interesting to look at further energy optimization. Can we ensure that these services can run as much as possible with our own generated solar power? Is battery storage useful and what capacity is needed for this? What smart controls should we implement so that everything keeps running efficiently and well?
The development of the local energy community can ensure that energy prices for e.g. heat are lower than market prices, allowing residents to enjoy interesting rates on these services in the long run.
How do you manage these services?
Keeping these more complex sustainable technologies in the hands of a co-owner’s association is not a given. These services are best provided by firms that specialize and have a knowledge of these different techniques.
We think that setting up a local management company or Circular Economy Service Company – CESCO is the best structure for this. If you want to know more about CESCOs, follow this blog via our newsletter.