Beblu strikes balance between traditional and high tech with Lebond workspace
The building’s classical exterior remains whilst its interior can be controlled using an app.
When the Singapore government allowed vaccinated employees to return to their workplaces starting 2022, the demand for Grade A office space, at least in the Central Business District, is expected to grow about 4.4%, according to Colliers. Just in time, Lebond - Singapore's first AI-enabled smart and green B1 industrial building with co-working features, was launched this March.
It's developer, Beblu, an AI tech property development and management company, constructed Lebond by refurbishing an old building without compromising its exterior features.
“Sustainable developments are the future where you do not have to tear down existing buildings, or rather, you just have to refurbish existing buildings, of course, with the hub of technology to make it new and modern so as to reflect… the modern times as far as to maximise the value of the building itself,” Beblu CEO Kenny Chai told Singapore Business Review.
Amongst Lebond’s green features is its solar panels.
In Singapore, the solar energy capacity was 203 Megawatts-peak (MWp) in 2018, and the government seeks to increase this to 350 MWp by 2020, and 1 GWp beyond 2020, according to the National Climate Change Secretariat of Singapore.
“If we realise that a lot of buildings are underutilised, there's a lot of real estate available on the rooftops of buildings that can enable them to build the solar panels, and to actually get energy savings from them, as well,” he said.
Out with the old, in with the new
Whilst the exterior of the Lebond building may be traditional, its interior is entirely modern where it has computer sensors and controls, which can be navigated through a phone.
“We actually develop our own proprietary solution that allows the tenants and the management… to actually control all aspects of the buildings like this solar panel, energy charging, energy savings, lighting controls, aircon controls,” said Chai.
To manage the smart controls, Chai said the Beblu app, which is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, connects to the building’s central server. Through the app, it can control the lights and even oversee tenant management with a tap of the phone.
“Instead of traditional switches or even traditional control panels, anyone can just use the phone to access the building. Of course, with the permission of the tenants of the building, [visitors] can
use the QR code to enter the units of the tenants [they] are visiting,” he said, adding that this feature makes Lebond unique from other buildings in Singapore.
Asked about the costs of installing and maintaining the building, Chai responded that there will be 50% savings of entire running costs over the next three to five years because of the app’s preventive maintenance of the building, which means there are artificial intelligence sensors that can detect problems before they happen.
“So this is, in itself, preventive maintenance, which is a lot lower than actual maintenance. And by doing preventive maintenance, we compound the energy savings that we actually have on our app, which will turn off the lights and all the features, including all the environmental systems in the building at a certain time,” he added.
The Beblu app for Lebond also reduced management costs because it saves labour expenses, said Chai, who is also a property management expert.
In the long run, the Beblu CEO said they are working with other developers to help in cutting running costs for buildings and to “disrupt the property management market.”
Chai said their firm also sees the trend of their technology on lowering manpower costs and easing management tasks.
“To actually make the ease of management easier for the managing team to manage all aspects of the building, tenant management, energy consumption, and even preventive maintenance all in one solution,” said Chai.