Even before the unprecedented exodus from commercial office spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of all types were rethinking the role of office space. Many companies were exploring new concepts such as telework, shared office spaces, and downsizing their headquarters. The pandemic has escalated the development of flexible office spaces, repurposed office space, home offices that can accommodate telework, and healthier office buildings.
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania professor Joseph Gyourko states:
“I strongly suspect what will result is a move to concentration, a flight to quality. Over the next few years, as tenants start to rethink space needs and their leases roll over, they’ll go into better buildings, and the [worse] buildings will be in trouble.
There will be huge variation, but I think people and families want the flexibility of at least a day [at home], and I think bosses are going to have to give it whether they like it or not. I don’t think we’ll go back to pre-COVID. I just don’t.”
A Statista Research Department report, published in April 2022, states:
“In the United States, vacancy rates across the office sector increased to an average of 12.3 percent in the first quarter of 2022. The jump in 2020 is primarily due to the impact of the coronavirus. With a considerable part of the workforce working from home or following a hybrid working mode., businesses are cautious when it comes to upscaling or renewing leases.
Office buildings are generally grouped into three classes: A, B, and C. Office spaces that provide premium facilities and demand high rent are considered Class A. The vacancy rates across all categories are expected to remain at around 15 percent until employment fully returns to pre-coronavirus levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that companies operate, and working from home has become the new normal for many employees in the United States. For teams that have returned to the office, employees are being encouraged to stagger start times and alternate their work schedules.”
With more office buildings empty or at high vacancy levels, retrofitting old buildings has become a hot topic.
So, What is Commercial Real Estate Retrofitting?
Retrofitting is the process of changing a building’s structure or systems after its initial construction. This can entail extreme structural building repair or change—or it can involve a lighter touch such as improving amenities or adding intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) devices and systems.
For office buildings to be competitive in today’s market, building owners need to provide a safe and smart working environment for a tenant’s workforce.
Commercial Real Estate Retrofitting Makes Sense
Retrofitting is beneficial because it:
- Can improve the building’s energy efficiency
- Is more sustainable than demolishing a structure and constructing a new one
- Can reduce the building’s carbon emissions
- Cut out the red tape involved with new construction
- Adds new technologies to the building
- Increases the life cycle of the building
- Makes the building more desirable and competitive
Retrofitting vs. Repurposing
Retrofitting and repurposing are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are actually two distinct concepts. While retrofitting involves adding or changing some features or components to an existing building, repurposing a building means using it for a purpose other than what it was initially built for. Here are some examples of repurposing:
- Use of retail space as a church or other community space
- Conversion of a commercial building into a mixed-use development
- Conversion of commercial buildings into residences
- Historical buildings serving as museums or theaters
Power over Ethernet LED Lighting: A Good Place to Start Your Commercial Real Estate Retrofitting
What is an LED retrofit?
An LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting system retrofit project simply consists of changing existing traditional lighting (such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), fluorescent, or incandescent) into a smart LED system, which is ideal for today’s energy-conscious world. Eventually, all commercial buildings will be smart buildings, and a new PoE LED lighting system is an excellent way to start.
An LED lighting system is great for all kinds of properties:
- Apartments and condominiums
- Commercial retail spaces
- Industrial and factory settings
- Large homes
- Office buildings
- Shopping malls and centers
- Small multifamily properties
What is PoE?
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a revolutionary technology that sends electrical power over a single twisted-pair Ethernet cable to a network’s powered device (PD). And 90W PoE has opened the doors to many PDs currently found in smart working environments of all kinds. One prominent example is the convergence of 90W PoE and LED lighting.
What are the benefits of LED Lighting?
There are many sound reasons to use LED lights:
- LEDs last longer: They have a typical lifespan of 50,000 hours—compare this to the 30,000 hours of a T8 fluorescent or the mere 750 hours of an incandescent bulb.
- LEDs are more durable and are not made of glass.
- LEDs are a directional light source with no need for reflectors or diffusers.
- LEDs transfer energy to light versus heat, reducing heat in the workplace.
- LEDs do not contain mercury, which is toxic.
- LEDs do not emit UV/IR, thus reducing eye strain and fatigue in workers.
Three Reasons PoE lighting is a Must For Your Commercial Real Estate Retrofitting Project
While it is legitimate to consider LED lighting alone, if your goal is to control a smart, hybrid environment fully, PoE is a must. Here’s why:
1) PoE Lighting Reduces Power, Material, Labor, and Maintenance Costs
- LED lights need DC power to work, which means that AC-powered LED fixtures must convert to DC through a transformer. This process can result in up to 20 percent power loss (in the form of heat). As PoE is native to DC, no transformer is needed, and there is no power loss.
- PoE reduces up-front construction costs, as well as construction time. There is also a notable carbon footprint reduction as no conduit, or high-voltage copper wiring is needed.
- PoE’s low voltage is safe and eliminates the need for a costly licensed electrician to install or modify the system.
2) PoE Lighting is More Secure and More Flexible
- PoE is a wired technology that does not suffer from the disruption risks associated with wireless lighting controls. In addition, PoE enables security features like macro and micro-segmentation.
- DC-based PoE equipment is smaller as they have no reflectors and diffusers, so PoE lighting can fit into spaces never before possible.
- As PoE lighting is not tied to an AC outlet, light fixtures can be located almost anywhere.
3) PoE Lighting Can Be Quickly and Easily Paired with Sensors, Shades, HVAC Controllers, and More
90W PoE can power, secure, monitor, and control:
- Air quality
- Ambient light
- HVAC controllers
- Room temperature
- Window shades
A PoE LED lighting system will go a long way toward your retrofitting project. PoE lighting attracts tenets and increases savings as well.