2020 Foresight

By on Jan 24, 2020 in News

Here’s a sampling of developments to follow this year.

Proptech grows . . .

The use of property technology will continue to expand across all real estate sectors. “Property managers and asset managers are leaning into technical solutions for productivity enhancements and operational efficiency. They are digitizing as much information as possible, so that analytics can be applied and data shared throughout the organization,” says

Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020, the 41st annual forecast report compiled by PwC and the Urban Land Institute. “Using analytics to enhance customer experiences will define winners and losers in the coming years.”

Much of the multibillion-dollar global investment in proptech “revolves around smart-home and smart-building applications aimed at energy efficiency” and enhances coworking and co-living concepts, the report says. Sensors activated by motion, voice, temperature or weight “are now part of the landscape, and will become more ubiquitous over time.”


. . . and so does ESG

Emerging Trends also addresses the growing importance of environmental, social and governance principles to real estate customers, employees, shareholders and communities. “Sustainability evaluation is becoming a checklist item for institutional investors domestically and worldwide” in real estate and other business sectors,” the report says. And with 55% of millennials, 25% of Generation Xers and 11% of baby boomers saying they factor ESG policies and performance into their investment decisions, “the power of ESG to influence capital deployment will be rising over time.”

“ESG attracts a more diverse set of investors, aids in recruiting talent and helps generate community support for proposed projects,” notes an unidentified REIT executive and Emerging Trends contributor. Another REIT exec adds, “As ESG data is becoming more widely available, we’re seeing clearer ties between ESG and overall performance.”

Along with comprising a standard for due diligence and risk assessment, ESG will also influence the work of architects and designers.


Retail buzz

Retailers will increase their reliance on technology “to anticipate consumer needs, fine-tune selections, and smooth pain points in the purchase process, thereby creating differentiating guest experiences,” according to Emerging Trends. A shopping center investment adviser concurs: “Technology will be a differentiator that further reshapes retail in the future, especially in how ‘big data’ will help retailers understand their customers and their behavior.”


IoT becomes a bigger thing

Nearly 31 billion devices around the world will be connected with the Internet of Things this year, up from 15.41 billion in 2015, according to Statistica. Smart meters and locks that are connected “are able to share data among each other, providing benefits such as better quality and life and greater insight into business,” says the market and consumer data provider.

Another 12 billion or so devices will be connected by 2022. As The Balance Sheet noted in February 2019, “At this rate, the Internet of Things may soon be as indispensable as the internet itself.”

Data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence website Toward Data Science proposes three key IoT trends for 2020: soaring popularity of smart home devices, the application of predictive maintenance to homes, and enhanced security capabilities to prevent data theft and attacks.



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that paper products, yard trimmings, plastic products and other municipal solid waste (MSW)—also called “trash”—totaled 267.8 million tons, or 4.51 pounds per person per day, in 2017. Some MSW ends up in landfills while other elements are recycled or composted.

And some of it is combusted with energy recovery. The world’s largest waste-to-energy plant is expected to come online this year in Shenzhen, China. It will be capable of burning 5,000 tons of waste daily, one-third of which will be recycled into renewable energy. The plant’s roof will be covered by 44,000 square meters of photovoltaic panels for converting solar energy into direct current electricity. The plant is one of 300 that the Chinese government plans to build.

Sixty-eight U.S. power plants generated about 14 billion kWh of electricity from burning 29.5 million tons of combustible MSW in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


A new type of convertible

Prototypes of electric vehicles whose batteries are recharged from sunlight converted into electricity by solar panels affixed to the roof will move closer to production this year. “By allowing the car’s battery to be charged on the move, this could be an absolute game-changer for the EV market,” says energy consultant Christopher McFadden, writing in online engineering community Interesting Engineering. Solar-powered hybrids are also in the works. The value of the global solar-power EV market could reach $1 billion in 2020.

Similarly powered small electric aircraft are also in development and could be available within the next few years.


Yardi will advance many of this year’s property management initiatives involving building energy efficiency, benchmarking for sustainability, retail asset management, coworking, predictive insights and more. Learn about our solutions.