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5 minutes with 5th March 2024

Here we meet Ross Ackland, Associate, Building Technology, who returned to Workman in 2022, after a previous stint in the firm’s facilities management team. Ross works in the firm’s Building Technology team, helping to manage Workman’s IBOS.

  • The technology has cumulatively saved 2,500,000 kg of CO2 and delivered £3.4m savings on clients’ energy bills over the past year alone, at the 5 million sq. ft of commercial property where it’s installed.

  • The energy saved over the past year is enough to power the equivalent of 1.1 trillion mobile phone charges – a total of 11,000,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy.

What three words describe Workman?

Collaborative, supportive, democratic.

Tell us about your role within the Building Technology team at Workman, and why this is important to the firm and its clients?

Having returned to Workman after a previous stint in the firm’s facilities management team, I was keen to be working at the cutting edge of building technology that could improve outcomes for building owners and occupiers.

I now have responsibility for the IBOS service for a portfolio of clients including Trilogy, and BlackRock.

I help manage the IBOS service, driving operational efficiencies and energy savings across their commercial real estate. It’s important to clients because it matches their Net Zero energy reduction ambitions, and also provides value for money for occupiers.

It’s a market-leading technology that offers a modern support for property management.

How are you putting your skills to their best use at Workman?

My background in facilities management gives me a good solid understanding of how buildings operate on a day-to-day basis. Being able to apply my skills and background, with the technology that we have, is key to making sure the building is optimised.

Property teams have a tough balancing act driving sustainability, providing improved occupier comfort and indoor air quality while providing value for money and sometimes these can be opposing views. By using our technology with my background in property management we can identify and implement operational efficiencies and drive cost savings without impacting occupier comfort.

I’m analytical by nature and so like to see how data drives change, using our system to integrate a building and seeing the impact of our optimisations on the wider building and also the savings made is exciting.

Having worked in building management for the previous ten years, I hope I’m well placed to understand what occupiers need, what asset managers need, and what property managers need – and create a balance across the whole stakeholder ecosystem for the property.

What change would you make to the wider property sector? And why?

I would like to see real measures of actual performance adopted more widely across the industry like energy and carbon intensity used drive performance and a move away from static point scoring measures and certifications.

I think legislation in the sector needs to change and become more robust to really drive change with an emphasis on accurately measuring live building performance and using this data to drive efficiencies.

What have been the most important developments in building technology / proptech over the past five years, and how have they benefitted investors and occupiers?

Building technology has a rapidly growing sector, previously building control was seen as a back of house function and limited to a closed shop of larger organisations but the growth and demand in this sector has seen Building Technology and Control take a forward-facing role in property management sector.

As technology literacy is increasing, we are seeing much greater demand for solutions and a much faster pace of improvements in this area, It’s really driven innovation in that sector. And it’s going to keep going rapidly.

These solutions now mean investors and occupiers are getting a lot more for their money; they’re getting a lot more value out of technology than previously.

How do you think AI will alter the future of real estate / boost the development of building technology?

I still think there is a way to go before buildings can be fully automated and for now, I think the synergy between technology and people produces the best results with regards to operating buildings. I have seen some great results with our IBOS technology, but most of these wouldn’t be to the degree we’ve seen without the people working with the technology.

We are already seeing buildings react much more quickly to changes in a building’s environment and the wider outside environment, and this will increase with building automation. At the moment there are lots of building processes and systems involved in running a building and I see AI as pivotal in analysing and utilising the vast amount of data available within building operations to improve efficiency.

What has been your standout moment at Workman so far?

Being part of the dynamic IBOS start-up and the rollout of that across Workman clients.

It’s a fast-paced environment and being involved with developing and growing a new service line within a business has been really exciting. Balancing this with delivering our service has been a great experience.

How do you hope to develop your role in the coming months and years?

The tech sector, especially in proptech, is moving so fast. Being able to stay ahead of the latest changes in the prop tech industry and continuing to refine our IBOS offering in line with that, is how I plan to develop more.

What first led you into the property industry?

I was previously in the Army, where I served eight years, including various oversee tours including two operational tours of Afghanistan. When I was looking to leave, I wanted to remain within a dynamic environment while using my skills gained in the Army for problem-solving.

The property industry seemed the best fit. I trained in facilities management (FM), and also earned an FM degree from Leeds University, which was funded by the Army.

What are your spare time pursuits and how do they feed into your role at Workman?

I am twelve weeks into being a father for the first time, so parenting is currently my only spare time pursuit.

What is your favourite building worldwide, and why?

The Natural History Museum in London. It’s an amazing example of architecture and public space. The fact that it’s open and free to the public to enjoy is something very rare for that type of institution.

What three dinner party guests would you choose and why? OR What book or podcast do you recommend?

The Worst Journey in the World: it’s a 1922 memoir by Apsley Cherry-Garrard of Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1910–1913.

It recounts the tale of how a small team set out to unearth what they believed was the link between reptiles and birds and recover Emperor penguin eggs, travelling deep into uncharted Antarctica to the nesting site of the penguin in temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, and in complete darkness.

It’s a great story of adversity and adventure, which tracks their scientific expedition. It’s also a true story, which has earned wide praise for its frank treatment of the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of its disastrous outcome, and the meaning of human suffering under extreme conditions.

Find out more about Life At Workman.

Find out more about IBOS…