Smart Building Technology—The Next Differentiator

Historically, business owners have placed a premium on location, demographics, and accessibility when it came to site selection. While these factors will always play an important role in leasing a space—as they should—new trends are emerging that focus on “smart building” technology.

Simply put, smart buildings make use of current technology and automation in order to improve its management and functionality. By introducing some of the more popular tech features, building owners and commercial real estate professionals find that properties can increase in value, have happier tenants, and save on operating costs in the long run.

According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate, “technology will significantly change the office leasing, operating, and structural environment going forward.” Buildings are evolving to incorporate more technological advances. But supporting additional devices means equipping the space with high-speed connections and specific network capabilities.

Many of these features are not new to the marketplace. In fact, some of the technology has been used for decades to cut down on growing energy consumption. What is changing is the rising importance placed on these features when seeking a potential space.

Here’s a look at some of the more popular smart building tools that are utilized in commercial buildings and how they can potentially enhance a property:

Lighting Controls & Sensors

As stated above, lighting sensor technology is not new to commercial real estate. Several companies have put smart lighting features in place that have drastically decreased energy consumption—along with their energy bills—making the office more comfortable and efficient for occupants.

As sensor technology becomes more advanced, businesses are adopting tools that can monitor and record data about the use of a building’s various rooms. The information gathered updates owners of the occupants’ habits, like how often a conference room is reserved versus how often it’s actually used.

Rather than relying solely on manual observations, this type of sensor solution delivers accurate data so it’s easy to see exactly how available space is being utilized. This has allowed businesses to make calculated decisions when repurposing underused square footage in their facility.

Enhanced Security Features

Building security has progressed past the point of a few locks on the front door. Thanks to recent technology, biometric security is at the forefront of people’s minds.

Mobile devices have made great strides in this type of security by introducing features such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition, and other industries are following suit. Similar technology is now making buildings more advanced by adding additional credentials for entering. Other companies are doing away with traditional keys or fobs and allowing employees to unlock doors with their mobile devices.

There are already plenty of options when it comes to live video footage and remotely controlling locks and security measures from mobile phones and apps—and they are continuing to grow in popularity.

Of course, many of these newer security features are still being ironed out when it comes to effectiveness. But it’s expected that as technology continues to improve, more and more business owners will opt in for additional security measures.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Cooling (HVAC) Features

Many buildings are now using powerful software to automatically control building thermostats, water heaters, sprinkler systems, and even monitor for water leaks. New optimized HVAC systems can calculate the best way to heat or cool a space based on the time of day and other factors. These tools are helping businesses save money, water, and become more environmentally conscious.

With HVAC systems connected to a network, it’s possible to automatically heat and cool rooms based on individual needs. If a room is not being used for long periods of time, the cooling could automatically shut off—thus saving the energy it would take to cool an empty room.

Smart Cities Dive, an online publication specializing in technology savvy cities, reported, “buildings consume about 30% of the world’s energy.” Having software that can track variables in the environment is crucial to using the space most effectively.

Advanced Audio/Visual Systems

Offices have different needs when it comes to the integration of audio/visual technology. Most modern spaces are adding network-connected systems that allow users to stream music and video throughout the office via their mobile devices. These systems allow tenants to take presentations and necessary multimedia documents anywhere in the office and instantly connect to any conference room screen, iPad, or other viewing devices.

But functionality isn’t the only issue. Modern offices are looking for ways to integrate the technology seamlessly without disrupting the aesthetics of the space. This means hiding systems completely from view and paying close attention to how people will interact with the design.

Finally, it’s important to remember that technology is changing daily. So having systems that are adaptable is a must. Many of the tools mentioned above may require additional features to make them work correctly—like high-speed fiber connections.

Knowing the possibilities of your future office space will help you make decisions when it comes to the integration of smart building technology and understanding what will work best for you.

What other smart building features do you think are important? Is there a new technology that you’d like to see introduced to your office building? Let us know in the comments!

 If you have questions about office space that incorporates smart building features, be sure to contact Crunkleton office broker Eric St. John at eric@crunkletonassociates.com.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

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Client Spotlight: Alliance Behavioral Health

Alliance Behavioral Health, situated within Crestwood Professional Center on Chateau Drive, is making great strides within the behavioral healthcare community. Co-owners, Katie Lewallen, Ph.D. and W. Jeff Bryson, Ph.D., have created an advanced practice that views mental health holistically.

And now, after celebrating its six-month anniversary in patient care, it’s developed a team, culture, and level of service that stands out.

“For so long, behavioral health practitioners have operated in silos, apart from the rest of the medical community,” said Katie. “But that mentality is quickly shifting and we will continue to see more and more mental and physical health professionals working in sync.”

According to Katie and Jeff, patients will find the greatest success when mental and physical health is addressed as a whole.

“Here at Alliance, we come up with plans to provide services for patients in a way that they can be seen more often and more efficiently,” explained Jeff. “We are here to offer our own specialized services and connect our clients with the best resources available. Sometimes, that means directing them to the correct specialist, introducing them to one of the counselors on our team, or directing them to an outside provider that may better serve his or her individual needs. We aim to be a hub of behavioral health within the North Alabama community.”

Crestwood Professional Center

Forming An Alliance

“In order to advance patient-centered healthcare, we have to realize that we can’t treat symptoms in isolation,” stated Katie. “We have to take care of mental health for physical health to improve. Alliance was created with the objective of integrating behavioral health with the broader healthcare community.”

After working together for five years, Katie and Jeff realized that they shared a vision for how and where a behavioral health practice should go. It was then the two decided to collaborate and make Alliance a reality.

“Like our name suggests, we have formed an alliance of behavioral health professionals who are passionate about what they do,” said Katie. “But the alliance extends beyond our office. We make an effort to work with clients’ family practitioners, therapists, educators, specialists, and others on their care team to get the full picture of their health.”

Within the medical community, patients are likely to encounter a number of specialists that deal with different issues individually. Alliance integrates information and input from all sources so they can develop the most effective treatment plans possible.

A Broad Spectrum of Services

Alliance offers services to all ages and specializes in a variety of disorders from the more common to extremely rare.

“We always welcome the more complex and challenging cases,” guaranteed Jeff. “In my training, I was fortunate enough to work in an environment where I was able to assist on very rare cases. We aim to do everything we can to improve their quality of life and get them functioning again, regardless of how challenging or uncommon the condition.”

Comprehensive assessments, collaborative treatment planning, psychological testing, and ongoing counseling are all under the umbrella of services offered at ABH.

“Alliance is a multidisciplinary practice,” clarified Katie. “We provide a broad range of ongoing services and each patient receives highly individualized care. It’s a technology-driven practice too that utilizes some of the most innovative and advanced techniques within the behavioral health community.”

Katie, a licensed clinical psychologist, focuses her services on children who are struggling in school or having some sort of difficulty succeeding academically or at home. Furthermore, she helps patients achieve their goals with assessments for ADHD, specific learning disorders like dyslexia, mood and anxiety disorders, and personality issues.

“I think it sounds really simple, but I love my job because I know I’m making a difference in people’s everyday lives,” shared Katie. “Watching my clients gain confidence and decrease stress is such a privilege for me.”

Jeff’s services cover a different area.

“One of the best things about our practice is our ability to provide different niche services,” said Jeff. “I specialize in health service psychology, neuropsychology, and I assess clients for a number of conditions associated with how the brain functions. Some of my cases have chronic health issues that they are dealing with and require very specialized treatment.”

The Alliance Behavioral Health team also includes three licensed professional counselors, Megan Caudle, M.Ed., LPC-S, Scott Kincaid, LPC-S, NCC, and Amy Bryan, LPC. Temple Bryson, MS, provides direct clinical assistance to the psychologists in order for patients’ assessment data to be collected and managed more efficiently. Taylor Ballard is ABH’s administrative director and ensures a quality patient experience and ongoing support for the administrative needs of the practice.

“We are all experts in our respective areas,” explained Katie. “But one of the things that sets Alliance apart is our focus on teamwork and creating connections. That’s the backbone of our culture.”

A Culture of Collaboration

“One of the reasons we felt driven to create Alliance was the need for a highly collaborative company culture,” shared Jeff. “There are a lot of practices we have put into place that not only improves the lives of our healthcare team but helps patients as well.”

Each month, the ABH team spends time reviewing cases as a group in an effort to optimize individualized treatment plans and break through barriers.

“When we sit around a table and offer insight into each other’s cases, it really gives us perspectives we wouldn’t have otherwise had,” said Katie. “Working as a team lets us put many trained minds on particularly challenging cases. It’s how we have breakthroughs—and it’s all geared toward making the experience and care of the patient successful.”

While each of the healthcare providers at ABH have specialized training and offer varying services, each team member is considered equally important to the vitality of the office. This also extends to the administrative staff.

“We all run this place together,” clarified Jeff. “From the front desk to our treatment rooms, everyone who interacts with our patients is equally important to our success and the success of our clients.” And, according to Katie and Jeff, that’s what has unified the team and made it a wonderful place to come to work each day.

“It’s true,” added Katie. “Taylor at our front desk accomplishes things that I could never do. He’s an expert at what he does and he is the first face our patients see when they walk in. We know that he will make sure they are treated well and have a pleasant experience.”

Currently, there are five full-time counselors/psychologists providing care at Alliance, but Katie said there is room for a few more.

“We are open to meeting additional providers who are interested in working with our company model,” said Katie. “Mental health professionals are trained to rely on consultation and peer support, but once we get to the real world that can be hard to come by. We have done our best to facilitate a supportive group within our team at Alliance.”

Looking to the Future

“Our practice is about building bridges between behavioral health and the rest of the medical community,” said Jeff. “We’ve designed Alliance to be a highly adaptive office that can easily evolve with the changing healthcare dynamics. In the future, we will continue to grow by adding more technology, providing education to other practitioners, and creating more connections with different providers.”

Jeff also shared that ABH hopes to further advance the use of technology within the practice, including incorporating the use of biofeedback and creating an active research program.

Katie added that the team is working on the cutting edge of what behavioral health research is saying—that patient-centered, technology-driven care is enhanced by collaboration. And part of that is creating more connections with other healthcare fields in the future.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to making a difference,” assured Katie. “Our patients need to be heard, and we tackle each day with a common goal. We want to impact patients’ lives in a positive way. No one should feel alone on their journey toward a happier, healthier life.”

Interested in learning more about Alliance? Visit the company website here: https://alliancehsv.com

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

Development Updates: “Times Plaza” & “Williamsburg Plaza”

There’s a lot going on in Huntsville in terms of development. In fact, an article recently released by al.com shares current U.S. Census figures that show Huntsville metro is still growing at a fast pace. We are always excited to be involved with this growth and help talented businesses become a part of the Madison County community.

As promised, Crunkleton will bring you updates on the progress of projects that we have already announced, and we have two for you today.

Read on below to see the latest from “Times Plaza” and “Williamsburg Plaza”!

Times Plaza

When driving past the old Huntsville Times site off the Parkway, you may have noticed the new sign that showcases renderings of the completed “Times Plaza” development.

We are thrilled to share the latest renderings of the project with you so you can see what’s coming. Check it out!

Times Plaza is the official name of the development that will be situated at 2317 South Memorial Parkway. It will be a mixed-use retail/office development that will house multiple exciting tenants including restaurants, boutiques, and more.

(We have a tenant announcement coming very soon, so check back here!)

Click here to see details on the property.

Williamsburg Plaza

Last November, we announced the addition of a new 8,200 square foot development coming to the corner of Highway 72 and Nance Road: Williamsburg Plaza. The site includes two confirmed tenants—Bank Independent and Aspen Dental.

As an addition to one of the city’s busiest retail corridors, it’s easy to see the development’s construction progress when driving by. Walls are up, and passersby can now make out the roof of the Colonial Williamsburg-style Bank Independent location.

According to the development team, “Construction continues at Williamsburg Plaza on the corner of Highway 72 and Nance Road. For the most part, the weather has cooperated and plans are on schedule. Williamsburg Plaza expects tenants to open up during the 4th Quarter of this year.”

Click here to see details on the property.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
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CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

5 Office Amenities That Boost Productivity And Employee Satisfaction

Many people are familiar with the perks that come your way when working for a company like Google. The unique office amenities offered to employees have been the topic of much discussion on respected websites like Business Insider, Forbes, and many others.

Let’s face it. Who doesn’t love the idea of adding relaxation rooms, breakfast bars, on-site gyms, and a team of massage therapists ready to relieve the daily stress of office life?

But adding amenities like these may not work in every business setting. While some companies may benefit from incorporating an arcade room—like at the LinkedIn headquarters—others only need to focus on the amenities that will have a positive impact on their bottom line. This is different for every office, and something a broker can help you determine.

Many of these “transformational office amenities”, as Emerging Trends In Real Estate calls them, can be key to boosting office morale, retaining existing employees, attracting new talent, and lowering the overall stress within your organization.

When considering updates to your own office space, or when searching for a new one, be sure to take a moment and ask yourself what amenities you will need in order for you and your team to perform their best.

To help with your brainstorming, here are some of the most requested office amenities according to National Real Estate Investor, Emerging Trends In Real Estate, and the brokers at Crunkleton.

1) The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things refers to the network of physical devices, electronics, software, and connectivity options within an office environment. In the commercial real estate world, the availability of efficiently operating systems is greatly affecting the leasing game and will continue to do so in the future.

It’s no surprise that access to fast, reliable Wi-Fi made it to the list of most requested amenities. Simply put, employees are looking for the freedom to walk about the office space/building and be able to complete their work in a number of settings—like the break room, cafeteria, or rooftop lounge. Offering reliable Internet means providing more freedom and convenience.

Technology such as energy efficient glass that adjusts for heat, glare, and daylight is considered a part of this category. Streaming music and mobile device connectivity to office tools are also important components to consider when deciding on your own Internet of Things for the office.

2) Dedicated Creative/Brainstorming Spaces

In today’s society, many jobs can be intellectually taxing and/or require high amounts of attention and creative energy. We saw the demand for additional creative spaces come along when Millennials began to enter the workforce, and this trend isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Companies like Beats Electronics headquartered in Culver City, California took brainstorming to the next level by creating entire rooms with whiteboard walls. AppNexus also came up with a unique way to get its employees’ creative juices flowing by incorporating a “poetry room.”

Some businesses even introduce elements like hammocks, basketball hoops, or video game systems for employees to use when on break or stuck in a creative slump. There’s no set way to execute the perfect creative/brainstorming space. The possibilities are endless.

3) On-Site Fitness Centers

Perhaps one of the most effective tools used to retain and attract new talent is the incorporation of on-site fitness centers. According to Athletic Business, a 40-year old publication dedicated to the sports and fitness industry, corporate fitness facilities “increase productivity, improve employee morale, and decrease absenteeism.”

Many large companies such as Unilever went so far as to create a “Wellbeing Zone” where employees can opt for activities like yoga, massages, and stretching. Google, on the other hand, added its famous “nap pods” as a place for employees to recharge.

Whether it’s in the form of adding a treadmill and some equipment in a dedicated area or creating a space that encourages mental wellbeing, investing in employees’ health and wellness is a highly requested amenity that has been shown to provide numerous benefits.

4) Access To Food Options

According to National Real Estate Investor, many employees are requesting access to better food options when at the workplace.

When searching for an office space, it’s always important to consider what food/coffee/beverages your company will have quick access to. This need for convenient food options has led businesses to relocate to areas where food choices are more plentiful. In some cases, companies are adding “dedicated food truck days” where employees can try out lots of local grub near the office.

With the rise of multi-use developments that incorporate office spaces, it’s becoming easier for tenants to provide their employees the food options that they desire.

Rooftop lounge at 315 Franklin Street in Downtown Huntsville.

 5) Rooftop Lounges And Outdoor Areas

Recent studies have been conducted that seek to determine the impact that physical office environment has on employees’ wellbeing.

The Human Spaces report into The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace stated in 2015 that “employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 percent higher level of well-being, are 6 percent more productive, and 15 percent more creative overall.”

Click here to read the official press release on the study.

This may be the reason so many workers are seeking office spaces with dedicated rooftop spaces and outdoor areas where they can decompress and reconnect with nature.

What office amenities do you find the most helpful and/or necessary? Let us know in the comments below! If you have questions about office amenities, call Eric St. John at 256-536-8809, or email eric@crunkletonassociates.com

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM