It is imperative for Nigeria to focus on urbanising sustainably through building and investment approaches with emphasis on superior performance and value, says Chairman, Zenith Group & Quantum Luxury Properties, Jim Ovia. He informed distinguished guests at the recently concluded Refined Investor Series hosted by Fine and Country in collaboration with the Institute for Real Estate Excellence in Victoria Island, Lagos that a growing population in urban areas encouraged the construction of skyscrapers to utilise ground space more efficiently, reports Bennett Oghifo
At the turn of the millennium, and for the first time in human history, about half of the world’s population began to live, not just in ‘cities’, but in ‘mega-cities’, some experts have said.
Discussing ‘The Intelligent Building: The Role of Technology in 21st Century Real Estate’ the Chairman, Zenith Group and Quantum Luxury Properties, Jim Ovia said, “Lagos is the second largest city in Africa, and the fastest growing Megacity in the world. Its current population figure stands at almost 25 million. Rapid urbanisation followed by an unplanned urban expansion has resulted in the need for planned urbanisation and urban renewal.”
He said there was need to urbanise sustainably, using building and investment approaches with emphasis on superior performance and value and that one of such approaches was the development of the intelligent building.
Ovia said, Intelligent buildings are buildings that through their physical design and IT installations are responsive, flexible and adaptive to changing needs from its users and the organisations that inhabit the building during its life time. The building will supply services for its inhabitants, its administration and operation and maintenance.
The intelligent building would accomplish transparent ‘intelligent’ behaviour, have state memory, support human and installation systems communication, and be equipped with sensors and actuators.
“In short, an intelligent building is one that has systems that are self-reliant, has sensors relaying data, and uses the latest technology,” he said.
He said the tag Intelligent Building was first coined in USA in early 1980s and that its definition/model is constantly evolving: Automated buildings; Responsive buildings; Effective buildings; Learning buildings.
“On the urban renewal of Lagos, he said, “Intelligent buildings are a necessity and the future of our building industry in Nigeria. The role of developers and technology in shaping the future of Lagos’ city-scape is therefore very essential and almost obligatory.”
Civic Center Towers…
Ovia described development of The Civic Center Towers as “the birth of an Iconic Beacon in Lagos: No two skylines are alike. A city’s skylines serves as a fingerprint.”
He said in 2015, “A new Iconic Beacon reshaped the fingerprint of the Lagos skyline when Quantum Luxury Properties delivered its vision to build the first of its kind ‘Intelligent Building’.
“The Civic Center Towers not only marks a new era of iconic structures in Lagos, but it would also stands among the region’s greatest landmarks as it
sets the pace for Sustainable Development.”
Civic Center Towers, he said “is an all encompassed Gold Level office space with state-of the art technology integrated into the building’s entire design. The building features uses advanced technology to improve processes reducing costs for operational staff. It is managed by a central Building Management System that automates lighting and cooling configurations with real-time controls of the building’s energy efficiency, comfort levels, access, fire alarms, and other elements.”
He said in addition, the Civic Center Towers was designed with the digital age in mind, with information technology enabled features such as: a central communication tower – VSAT and broadband enabled, provision for all tenants plug-ins, IT core/infrastructure convergence, 16-storey all-round wired guaranteed IT services provision of dedicated server space for individual tenant’s Firewall security for each tenant. An elevated structural floor for mechanical and electrical services.
Access Control: Access card enabled entry to various floors; Security & Safety: CCTV Systems; Intruder Alarm Automated high sensitive fire alarm; Lighting Control; IP Network, Wireless, Wi-Fi and more.
It has on-site Management; Fitness Centre; Meeting Facilities; Mezzanine Plaza; Recycling Programme; Sewage treatment Plant, among others.
Objectives of the design, he said are, “to provide a World-Class, Avant-Garde commercial building that surpasses the occupant’s needs and expectations while considering the environment and meeting global standards. The design had to possess Intelligence, Functionality and Charm.”
On best practices, he said, “There were three main best practice factors utilised in the design of the Civic Center Towers: Building Management, Building automation and the physical environment, Space management.”
Other features are: Building’s internal space and operating costs – Capabilities and flexibility of the building to accommodate changes, personal
moves and connectivity
Business management: Management of the organization or tenant(s) core business (i.e ability to maintain various functions for occupant comfort & operation).
Project Scoping and Purpose: Evaluated the future use of the building by identifying the purpose and needs of the targeted building occupants.
“Identified our Target Occupants who are: dynamic businesses; multinational industries and financial institutions; Require top brand positioning and desire to be at the very heart of the target market. Entities that would benefit from an urban environment, high-speed network access, and 24/7 availability or services.
Projecting a design module requiring intelligent designing that ensured flexibility to allow for easy refitting and remodelling of the space to the clients taste.”
Return on Investment (ROI) on Rent. Interesting fact on the results of a research carried out in three Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht (average height building 29 metres) suggest that firms are willing to pay around (4%) four percent more to locate in a building that’s 10 metres taller because tall buildings thrust themselves into the public eye. According to him, “When budget allows, businesses, often prefer a landmark address – and even if it confers no direct productivity benefits, the reputation effects may bring clients in through the door.”
He said “One of the key barriers to building more intelligent and sustainable buildings is the belief that it will always cost more, and it does.
“However in calculating the impact of the cost incurred on sustainable materials, developers must not neglect the cost saved from reducing waste, increasing resource efficiency and promoting innovative new products. The lifecycle payback of this investment can result in decreased incremental spending.”
On material selection, he said, “With a debate simmering globally over energy efficiency and urban necessity, we as developers must consider the role we can play to alleviate energy depletion by creating highly intelligent and efficient buildings.
“Materials must be selected and used in such a manner that to reduce building’s maintenance cost while conserving energy, thereby depleting less natural resources.
“For example, the incorporation of advance technology materials such as the use of a double glazed curtain wall systems to minimize solar heat gains in the building, reducing the need for cooling thereby conserving energy.”
Also, speaking Yinka Ogunsulire, Managing Director of Orange Island discussed the growth of new, planned, urban communities and satellite cities as a new trend in African urbanization to cater for the growing population and emerging class.
According to Ogunsulire “the best solution for African cities, many of which are creaking under the weight of growing populations and rapid urbanisation rates, is therefore to channel the growth into new satellite sites which are properly located, developed, planned, serviced and managed”.
The Executive Manager of Nestoil Tower, Nnenna Obiejesi believe that having a vision is a developer most important tool in getting iconic developments to fruition.
According to Udo Okonjo, CEO Fine and Country, Building the future of real estate also involves increasing competitiveness in the market which can only happen by the improvement in access to finance with long term repayment options to open up the middle market along with innovative building technologies. The Refined Investor series is a bi-annual event.