Navigating the Future: Smart Buildings and Sustainability with Matthew Marson
Author Jessica Swanepoel  | 

In a recent episode of The Unworking Podcast, we unravel the intricacies of smart buildings with Matthew Marson, an industry expert whose journey encompasses iconic organisations like JLL, Accenture, and the Crown Estate. Matthew provides firsthand insights into the intersection of architecture, engineering, and cutting-edge technology.

Journey into Innovation – Matthew shares his professional evolution, starting as an architect and engineer and culminating in groundbreaking projects like “The Dock” at the Crown Estate. From his early days at Accenture, he delves into venturing into technology, specifically heating, ventilation, and air conditioning analytics, growing it into a multimillion-dollar business.

“I started as a graduate management consultant at Accenture, where I first started to learn technology. That journey led me to building a business around heating, ventilation, and air conditioning analytics, which became a multimillion-dollar venture.”

The Intersection of Technology and Modernist Architecture – Matthew expresses his passion for modernist architecture inspired by contemporary technology, drawing parallels between the technology of the past and today’s smart building solutions, encompassing semiconductors, connectivity, and artificial intelligence.

“I absolutely love modernist architecture, which was inspired by the technology of the time. Smart building technologies now embody the technology of our era, including semiconductors, connectivity, and specific bits of artificial intelligence.”

The Value of Smart Buildings in Uncertain Times – Discussing his talk at the UnWorking conference, Matthew outlines the three pillars of smart building value: understanding data, adaptability, and active improvement systems. He emphasises the importance of technology in responding to market changes and improving areas such as energy consumption and space planning.

“If you’re not using these sorts of technologies, then I think that’s a problem. No one has ever been fired for making something better, especially if you have data that has justified your changes.”

Balancing Cost Cutting and Employee Experience – Matthew addresses the challenge of balancing cost reduction with enhancing employee experience in the evolving work landscape. He advocates for reimagining office spaces, moving away from open-plan layouts, and investing in collaboration technology while stressing the necessity of policy changes.

“There’s no point doing any of these refit outs or investments in technology if you’re not going to change the policies that go with it. Office is about coming together, and if it’s about me getting on with stuff, I do it from elsewhere.”

Smart Buildings and ESG Goals – Matthew explores how smart building technologies contribute to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. He urges organisations to utilise environmental data for social and governance purposes, emphasising the responsibility of employers to ensure that negative health outcomes are not burdened on public healthcare systems.

“In social aspects, it’s about engaged and purposeful people. In governance, it’s about having well-managed and maintained spaces for safety and security in interconnected systems.”

Forecasting the Value of Smart Building Technology Investments – Matthew unveils insights into forecasting the value of smart building technology investments, suggesting a threefold return on investment over a five-year period for spaces above 100,000 sqft.

“From my old projects, for every one pound invested in smart building technology, I would expect at least three pounds in value back within a five-year window.”

The Future of Smart Buildings –  In a forward-looking segment, Matthew predicts consolidation in the vendor landscape, an evolving definition of smart buildings, and envisions a future where buildings possess personality and seamless user interfaces.

“I hope we will see more fun going into buildings and that we start to design more personality. I want our buildings to feel a bit more like Downton Abbey, where we’ve added a software butler.”

Embark on a thought-provoking journey with Matthew Marson as he unravels the past, present, and future of smart buildings. Gain firsthand insights into the evolution of technology shaping our built environment and a visionary perspective on the exciting future that awaits. The podcast is a testament to Matthew Smart’s expertise and provides a glimpse into the transformative world of smart buildings.


Listen to the Unworking Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and BuzzSprout.