From biophilia to microgrids: What to expect in 2023 and beyond

Biophilic design, microgrids, and decarbonization—these are three of the trends, technologies, and strategies IMEG’s market and service leaders believe are poised to have a growing impact on the built environment. Read on to learn more about what owners, designers, and end users can expect to see more of in 2023 and beyond.

1. Industrialized construction. High-volume off-site construction, prefabrication, and on-site construction automation will continue to advance in response to ongoing labor and material challenges. This will lead to reduced costs, increased quality control, and the potential for improved energy efficiency and decarbonization. —Mike Lawless, Senior Director of Innovation   

2. Biophilic design. A broader cultural shift toward health and wellness is reflected throughout the design industry in the growth of biophilic design. In lighting, for example, innovative new luminaire designs incorporate unexpected materials or integrated organic elements such as petrified moss and living plants. Manufacturers also showcase biophilic design concepts by continuing to have options available for luminaires designed for circadian support lighting as well expanding the breadth of integrated acoustic luminaires to include soft flowing shapes. —Shanna Olson, Architectural Lighting Leader

3. Sustainability and wellness in hospitality. Sustainability—from resource conservation to locally sourced foods—will be among the top trends in the hospitality industry as owners seek to reduce their carbon footprint and appeal to environmentally conscious guests. An uptick in wellness also is on the horizon, from resorts that offer health-focused stays and programming (think diet and nutrition, procedure recovery, rehabilitation, meditation, and fitness) to hotels offering a healthier indoor environment through improved air quality and ventilation, purified water, enhanced lighting for circadian rhythm, and biophilic strategies. —Bob Winter, Director of Hospitality

Listen to the IMEG podcast episode, “Hospitality update: Growth in Demand, Wellness, and Sustainability.”

4. Decarbonization of healthcare. With the healthcare industry accounting for a yearly average of 5 percent of the carbon emissions of industrialized nations, many owners, architects, and engineers have already made commitments to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the carbon footprint of their healthcare building projects. —Mike Zorich, Vice President of Healthcare

Learn more on the IMEG blog and podcast, “Decarbonization in Healthcare: A Practical Approach for the Built Environment.”

5. Microgrid electrical systems. This free-standing, backup power source will become increasingly attractive to healthcare organizations and owners of other building types that require uninterrupted 24/7 power. The technology ensures resiliency during long-term power loss from the grid and eliminates reliance on backup generators and the fuel they require. —Brian Leavitt, Director of Electrical Engineering

Learn more on the IMEG blog, podcast, and executive guide: “Microgrids for Healthcare Facilities: ‘Island Mode’ Ensures Long-term Operability” 

6. IRA-incentivized green building. As the federal government provides more direction on the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, owners and developers will begin taking advantage of the $369 billion included in the IRA for climate resilience, energy efficiency, and decarbonization-related technology. Look for the act to spur the greening not only of buildings and infrastructure in the federal, state, municipal, and university sectors, but also in the private —Steve Rhoades, Vice President of Market Development & Federal Solutions

Learn more: “Guidance on Inflation Reduction Act provisions that reduce costs of building green” (Podcast included) 

7. Meeting equity. This will become the standard in office spaces to enable all participants, regardless of their location and platform, to be equally heard and seen via smart AI cameras, beamforming mics, and auto-framing to identify participants and create a more natural experience. In the education market, new “Hy-Flex” classrooms will incorporate design elements supporting in-person and remote learning and lecture capture utilizing networked ceiling mic array systems, AI cameras, and multiple displays mounted around classrooms. —Mark Bradley, Project Executive, Technology

Learn more: “Explaining the difference between Hy-Flex and Hybrid teaching models” 

8. Building with SpeedCore. This concrete-filled composite plate shear wall can be used for constructing a building’s core, and, unlike a traditional concrete shear wall, it does not require internal reinforcing. Under the right circumstances, the revolutionary building method can reduce commercial high-rise construction time by one-fourth or more. —Wally Ford, Client Executive, Structural

Learn more: “Expect SpeedCore to reduce time and cost of commercial high-rise construction” 

9. Active shooter response training. An increasing number of corporations, schools, and healthcare organizations are tackling the issue of workplace violence by creating effective prevention programs and teaching their employees how to respond to emergencies quickly and correctly. With this training, any threat or emergency an organization may encounter can be better managed and less traumatic for employees. —Ryan Searles, Security Consulting Group Leader

Learn more: “Organizational Resilience: Planning is key for mitigating vulnerability to disaster” 

10. Geospatial data analysis. Geographic information systems (GIS), subsurface utility engineering (S.U.E.), and reality capture technology will continue to improve the ability of civil engineers and surveyors to map, visualize, and analyze geospatial data, whether it’s outdoors or inside. This will provide design teams and owners with ever higher levels of confidence in existing conditions and, ultimately, design. —Eric Vallejo, Director of Reality Capture and Geospatial Solutions

Learn more on the IMEG blog: “Night Flight: Drones take site assessments to new heights” and “Reality Capture: The many benefits of drones and 3D laser scanners”

11. Hydrogen vehicle development. As production of electric and hybrid vehicle solutions continues (along with infrastructure to support expanded charging capability), new developments will be seen in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and power plants to create “green” hydrogen (via renewable energy) for cleaner, longer-range solutions. According to Juniper Research, the number of hydrogen vehicles in service is predicted to exceed 1 million globally by 2027. —Gary Bireta, Project Executive

Learn more: “The future of hydrogen vehicles”

12. Data-based identical twins. Look for an increased use of digital twins—a virtual 3D model that mirrors how a planned or existing structure behaves in the real world. Along with the Internet of Things and AI technology, a digital twin provides better data and understanding of a building’s design, construction, and operations, as well as its effect on the environment, which can help owners meet their carbon reduction or neutrality goals. —Edwin Najarian, Client Executive, Structural

Learn more on the IMEG podcast: “Data is the key to getting more help from your building” and “Digital twin uses building data to model effects of system changes.”

13. Sound improvement in education and healthcare. New standards of care for acoustics and noise control in education and healthcare will improve quality in very practical ways and generally align with LEED, WELL, and ANSI standards. In education, there are strong updates for a “minimum standard of care” in all U.S. schools. In healthcare, updated FGI standards now require noise abatement in very specific fashion for state permits. Noise is addressed from outside the building perimeter, from adjacent spaces, and interiors, such as operating rooms and patient rooms. —David Wright, Senior Acoustics Technical Specialist

Watch the webinar: “Acoustics for Healthcare” 

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