ReCoTech is one of the largest real estate events in the Nordics. This year, the event was organized and held fully online on the 18th and 19th of November.


Today, digital transformation is a major force, changing all industries. It influences the way corporations and institutions work. According to the International Data Group, 85% of enterprise decision-makers see the need to make significant inroads in digital transformation in their businesses within the next two years. The Built Environment has been struggling with finding ways of becoming more digitized. But what can we learn from industries like ICT- or, Automotive industry? And why we should not be afraid of changes?


To see and find new ways, you simply just need to change your perspective. When you bring in new talent, you will renew the industry – because change is often driven by outsiders. Nobody listens enough to the contrarians and the strong ideas that already exist within the industry. When we look at how industries change, it is never the traditionalist, who defines the change. The history of innovation has taught us that, who got you here, won’t get you there. 




ReCoTech day 1
Maija Ilmoniemi and Sarah Sipilä at this years ReCoTech


Since ReCoTech was a 2-day event, we have been breaking down our review into two parts as well. Today we share with you insights from the virtual discussions around the topics of Sustainability and Built Environment. 


1. Built Environment: Possibilities now and in the future


Industry leaders believe that the Built Environment industry will look radically different 20 years from now. Connected construction will be enabled by connected teams and connected data. 


And it is about adaption happening on site. There has been software for the construction industry for decades. But those have been inside the offices, not outside ”in the field” where you spend 80% of the costs. Connected teams mean defining and standardising processes and then adding a digital platform to support on-site workflows. 


“By now, most people within the Built Environment have a digital mindset. But we need to think further, towards a data-driven mindset where you see processes like analyzing as a normal part of your work” states Klaus Nyengaard from LetsBuild.


When you start to have the construction side covered with digital tools supporting many (if not most) of your digital processes, then you start to generate a lot of data. And if you then link it with integrations to other systems – like streaming the weather and other related data – suddenly you have access to a big pool of real-time data. And that data you can utilize to get relevant analytics for your decision making related to your constructions. 


Constant data flow and an algorithmic mindset


Ideally, everything on the construction site will be connected. There is a huge flow of constant data from your construction team on-site, drones, robots – connected and collected into a data warehouse. Additionally, we would be able to apply machine learning algorithms to actually be able to mimic quite closely what happens on a factory floor. But to get there, we need to climb smaller steps in order to that algorithmic mindset.  


We also need to become better, in the construction industry as well, with issues of diversity and inclusivity. We have realized by now how important mental health is. If you think back five years ago, a construction company that talked about mental health did not exist. That shows that PropTech too can develop. Diversity pays off and generates positive value. 


COVID has caused major disruption to our working lives and has stimulated new workforce trends. For the built environment, those changes will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like cybersecurity and data analytics. 


2. Sustainability as a Game changer


Construction is a big sinner when it comes to climate change. The construction industry is a large contributor to CO2 emissions, with buildings responsible for 40% of the total European energy consumption and a third of CO2 emissions. 


Governments, businesses and citizens are looking towards the ‘new reality’ of life after COVID-19 and at the same time environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are quickly rising up the agenda.  We can see ESG as a new lens through which companies will be evaluated.


Investors are increasingly paying attention to selected ESG topics to better manage the risks and opportunities of their real estate investments. In addition, new ones such as the cybersecurity of buildings have become relevant.

Add Value for Cities, Companies, Investors and Society


Pioneering cities, companies, investors and organisations are already contributing to and reporting on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They understand the need to integrate the SDGs into their work at all levels. It is clear that operating in a sustainable way is no longer a choice, but a necessity for long-term success in all areas of business and society.  


Investors and companies are putting more focus on the SDGs as they stimulate innovation and open new commercial prospects. Businesses that develop solutions to the challenges of sustainable development are considered a good investment opportunity. 


Riikka Sievänen, ESG advisor at KPMG Finland, explained that a bit further. ESG is not just covering environmental issues. It is also about the social aspects like health and security, labour standards and working conditions, inclusions and diversity. Also, the government aspect is important in terms of business ethics or data protection and privacy.


A Circular economy to reach goals


If we start using a circular economy we can actually deliver sustainability without compromise on price and quality. For example, Ditte Lysgaard Vind from Lendager was showing how to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems.


Natasha Friis Saxberg explained a bit further what the foundation for a green transition looks like. 

1. Skills: You need the right people in order to see the full potential. We need to educate more people – There is a very high demand for specialists in the technology field because there is technology in everything. One part of the solution for this green transmission is within technology.


2. Capital: We are changing our world dramatically and that demands a new investment. Investments in green are not as predictable as all other investments we make – for that, we need courage and trust. We need to go in this direction and accept that the ROI might take a bit longer because there is some development going on.


3. Commercialize: There are new promising technologies, but they are a bit too expensive. With all these new green technologies, we need the industry to adopt them in order to scale them. Commercialization also demands investment but also demands a close collaboration.


Technology can help us accelerate and scale the sustainable transition of the Built Environment. By adopting this, we can reinvent and build new value chains to support the trends within smart cities, buildings and the future of mobility.



Do you want to know more? Next week we will publish the second part of our ReCoTech review, covering topics like the Role of Data, Tenant relations, APIs and Ecosystems.