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Urban Digital Twins can re-model and re-vitalise under pressure office and retail space in cities

Jul 5, 2022

City real estate owners face a crisis as the ‘work from home’ culture causes serious under-use of prime urban offices, and e-commerce booms at the expense of city centre retail.

Together with entrenched city problems, like traffic congestion, poor air quality and the high cost and shortage of housing, vast areas of once sought-after urban space now face a real challenge of re-invention.

Urban Digital Twins can re-model and re-vitalise under pressure office and retail space in cities

Market watchers say it is now a huge concern for the landlords, managers, and city planners, when they are also under public and political pressure to slash carbon emissions from these assets.

The powerful financial markets watchdog, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has put forward a proposal that would force public and private real estate owners to additionally disclose the climate risks and carbon emissions of their holdings and, where applicable, proposed lower emission targets and plans.
While the SEC market watchers predict real estate owners will increasingly face tenants and investors with environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines who are going to demand risk disclosures, and emission-reduction plans.

Digital twins are widely forecast to be the advanced technology that could rescue the owners, by virtually re-modelling and re-designing under-used real estate, plus delivering low-emission plans, before a dollar is spent on any physical re-purposing.

ABI Research forecast $280 billion in savings for building asset owners and city planners before the end of the decade through the deployment of digital twin technology, which is identified as a global top five high growth tech sector, worth $6.75 billion in 2021, expected to rise to $8.88 billion this year and then soar to $96.49 billion by 2029 at a CAGR of 40.6% according to Fortune.

Urban digital twin pioneer Michael Jansen has already shown it can work, as CEO and Founder of several award-winning companies, and now the ground-breaking TwinUp:

“Urban digital twin technology can simulate many scenarios and create huge financial savings for any city to then optimize its design, efficiency, productivity, population management and traffic control, plus re-purposing and retrofit construction work.

“This can be achieved virtually, with one building at a time, or blocks, districts, and even city-wide, plus associated infrastructure such as road networks.
“But those who should really tune in here are the landlords who need to maximise the value of their real estate, who know they must re-purpose these assets fast, while addressing environmental concerns,” added Jansen, who was an architect before opting for the wider horizons offered by digital twins.

“TwinUp’s digital twin software platform uses data and AI to help real estate owners reduce building operating costs by 35%, boost productivity by 20%, and cut carbon emissions by 50-100%.

TwinUp’s CEO & Founder, Michael Jansen

“But it can also help re-position them, using the digital twin software’s powerful aggregated data, mapping, simulation, and design elements. Urban industrial zones and warehouses have been re-purposed previously as chic apartments and condominiums. Houston’s Montrose district is a fine example of regeneration creating a vibrant new and trendy design-led model.

“And London’s financial centre, the ‘Square Mile’, is looking at creating 1,500 homes by 2030, using some of the most valuable office locations in the UK.
“The trend will grow because 55% of the world’s population – 4.2 billion inhabitants – already live in cities, according to the World Bank. By 2045, the stat will reach six billion, pressing for housing across the range, from luxury high rise conversions to affordable homes, with good urban spaces available to all.

“Admittedly, some people have used ‘work from home’ as a chance to move to the countryside or coast, but some city dwellers love being close to culture - museums, theatres, restaurants - so we should see a renaissance of city centres, with more open spaces, river clean-ups and new community buildings.

“The exodus of office workers from city centres also poses issues for the huge suburban areas that ring a city centre. How will these also re-balance if their current populations must no longer commute ‘downtown’?

“Not all urban real estate will be able to make the transition either, but digital twins can model and show how we can re-purpose their sites most effectively, for sports and leisure perhaps, or solving urban transport issues.

“My team and I saw this urban renewal ahead of the market and have worked on it for many years, with exciting future options featuring buildings not only low or free from emissions, but also actively contributing revenue and savings through energy transition - solar glass windows and roofs, and vertical wind turbines - and vertical farming.

“And the space above cities may also become valuable; I was invited to present to NASA engineers and subsequently wrote a white paper on how digital twins might map out city airspaces to enable safe high-level transport using zero-emission air taxis and drones.”

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The TwinUp Software Beta Program is now active and accepting applications from interested participants. Applicants must be a 1) licensed architect, 2) unlicensed practicing architect, or 3) current architecture school student. To learn more, send us an email or signup to attend the next TwinUp Software Beta Program webinar.

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