Hello everyone! This week I bring news from the Property Week Student Accommodation Conference.
The event lasted the whole day and there was a range of discussions concerning various topics around the Student Accommodations market, its current and future development. Industry leaders also took the floor and offered guidelines on how to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic, promote a sense of community, diversity, mental health & well-being, as well as creating partnerships between universities and the private sector.
The most interesting panel to me was one entitled Student Accommodation: How can we make it better?
Numerous aspects of the PBSA sector development for the foreseeable future have been touched on during the discussion.
First of all, affordability, affecting not only students but also developers in a comprehensive positive cycle achieved through efficiency and waste reduction.
Improved planning and technology enhancement have to be well-targeted to help reducing energy consumption, water waste and in turn carbon footprint as well. The important consequence of these improvements would be a decrease in operating costs that can translate also into more affordability for residents.
Data too, with a more granular application, could give back a clearer idea of where energy is used and help reducing wastes too.
2. Added Value
A key point highlighted during the panel was the necessity to Add Value for the residents through efficiency improvement and green policies. But how to do that?
According to the panellists, engaging the students themselves through technology and data is the way. Improve sustainability and waste reduction have to become a choice and active participation, turning into a rewarding experience and something to be held accountable for. Data can help to empower the PBSA residents making them a real part of the solution.
Another very innovative point that was raised is about creating a culture of respect. If people are proud of the building they live in, they will take care of it and their perceived value will increase. This is still at an early stage but it looks like we are starting to see calculations of capital gain from that culture of respect, which is extremely interesting and something I truly believe in.
3. Structural Changes
In the battle to improve the future Student Accommodation, of course, not everything passes through technology or digitalisation. Structural changes are also necessary and striking the right balance between efficiency improvement and architectural design is the challenge.
On the one hand, it’s been suggested a shift from the use of steel and concrete toward timber and a reduction of glazed areas to avoid heat losses. On the other, a more cautious approach is advised to not compromise the liveability and design value of new builds and refurbishments.
Decarbonisation through structural changes also happens with the departure from fossil fuels. One example is that of Gas Boilers that will be substituted in the years to come with systems based on hydrogen.
4. Conceiving the bedroom of tomorrow
The focus is well-being, and it has become so even more after the pandemic impact. The tricky part though is that this well-being is strictly connected with the connection we have with the people around us, family, and friends. In a time of isolation, it is much more complex to achieve that.
Along with the connections, other factors favouring the happiness of residents are the light quality, the comforting feeling of a home away from home, as well as the connection with nature through touch, smell, and texture.
Luckily, some of the market-leading brands in the industry had already put wellbeing as a priority in the design process. At A Designer at Heart, in fact, we are always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve wellbeing, connection with nature, and quality of life through thoughtful design choices.
If you fancy 5 more minutes of reading have a look at our previous posts on these topics: