Boston Building Trends to Watch in 2015: Retrofits, Automation, and Sustainability
One of the most exciting things about starting a new year is looking forward to what it will bring. In our earlier post on how Boston is setting the tone as an international leader in 2015, we touched on just a few of the many urban development and urban innovation plans in store for the Hub. Now, we’re taking a closer look at what building trends are going to take off in Boston this year.
When it comes to trends that will dominate 2015, the outcome of Boston’s 2024 will determine some of the biggest trends. “If Boston is successful [in the Olympic bid],” says JM Electrical’s Matthew Guarracino, “this will shape the construction market in the Hub for years to come.” With the possible infrastructure improvements, housing developments, and athletic facilities that would be spurred by winning the bid, this year will bring a clearer picture of what to expect if Boston’s bid is successful.
2015 will also see an increase in retrofits/energy upgrades, automation, and particular attention to sustainable buildings. Retrofits and energy upgrades allow buildings to update outdated electrical systems and allow them to take full advantage of the newest technological innovations. Not only does this help modernize buildings, but these upgrades increase savings and reduce energy costs. Universities and colleges will continue to spend money on these sorts of energy upgrades, Guarracino predicts, along with new housing. Spending money on upgrades and new housing will improve the quality of life for students and faculty while simultaneously saving money.
“If Boston is successful in the Olympic Bid, this will shape the construction market in the Hub for years to come.” – Matthew Guarracino, @JMElectrical103
These upgrades don’t just save money, though. By making these electrical systems more efficient, buildings become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. “We are seeing many lighting retrofits taking place all over the city,” Guarracino says. In the past, Boston has led the way in sustainable building, and looks to do the same in 2015.
You don’t have to be a big company or university to get in on this trend – there are plenty of things people can do in their own homes and offices to make them more sustainable. “Things like smart thermostats and occupancy sensors can drastically reduce your energy and lighting usages,” Guarracino says. This technology is also becoming increasingly mobile. With mobile-enabled smart thermostats, occupants have more control over energy use, which ultimately reduces overall consumption.
The past year saw a market that was increasingly open to this type of automation, and it’s a trend that will only continue to grow. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Guarracino says. “By investing in Building Automation Systems (BAS), facilities will increase their energy efficiency and users will decrease their cost.” Not to mention the added benefits occupants will enjoy from living and working in buildings that are overall healthier and more comfortable. Automation will also continue to become more integrated. As people realize how BAS help save time and money, expect to see more full integration of multiple systems across buildings.
Many times when people think about a building being high-tech, green, automated, etc., they automatically think of the finished product, but a lot goes into the planning and construction of the building. JM Electrical, for example, is now spending more time on planning and layout, which allows them to better execute their projects. They are also being brought in earlier in the planning/engineering phase as Design Build projects have become more popular.
JM Electrical also invests heavily in the training of their workforce, and recently opened the JM Training Center. This center allows them to train their electricians on new technologies, keeping them on the cutting edge and up-to-date on the latest in energy efficiency. Not only does the training center help keep the workforce educated on new technologies, but it also offers training on job-specific work.
And as for JM Electrical’s own projects in 2015? “We are excited to continue our work at many of the major colleges and universities in the area as they upgrade and build new facilities,” says Guarracino. “We are also involved in a number of Tenant Fit-outs for companies looking to establish or expand their presence in Boston.”
Whether it’s retrofitting old electrical systems or making your home fully automated, it’s clear that 2015 is going to be an innovative year for building in Boston.