Our questions spark real-world potential.
WOWA’s thought leadership deepens our capacity as advisers and establishes a rigorous foundation for practical decision-making. By asking important questions and formulating thoughtful and innovative answers, we provide clients with the resources they need to realize their leadership ideals—from judicious conservatism to daring innovation.
The real estate and construction sector shapes the built environment worldwide, represents about 15 percent of the world’s GDP, and employs more than 100 million people. More than 85 percent of the population in developed markets lives in urban areas. Our industry leaders really do change the world. The question is, How do we want that change to look?
WOWA’s perspective on major trends guides our commitment to health and environmental stewardship, as well as our skillful navigation of an ever-changing digital environment. By turning a critical eye on our own industry, we anticipate the future of best practices and new potential for excellence. And by cultivating educational and research affiliations, we identify opportunities for growth and professional development that position our clients ahead of the competition.
The future of development is both physical and digital. How will real estate owners and developers harness innovation to transform our buildings, our industry, and our world?
Deepening digital interconnection in almost every aspect of life has profound implications for the ways we design, construct, use, and value real estate. The response in our industry has been slow and uneven, resulting in heightened costs and falling efficiency rates, and exposing owners to the financial risks associated with technological obsolescence. McKinsey estimates that 20 percent of the economy was digitized in 2020, with real estate and construction being among the sectors most resistant to change.
At the same time, incentives for change are clear.
According to Boston Consulting, by 2030, full-scale digitization could help our industry save an estimated 12 to 20 percent, or between $1 trillion and $1.7 trillion annually.
Emerging industry standards, including certifications for smart technologies and environments, act as important benchmarks. But owners who take a comprehensive, strategic, and business-oriented approach to innovation will contribute to foundational change across the industry and define new forms of digital leadership in the process. WOWA’s experienced and informed perspective on digital transformation positions clients ahead of the curve.
Health and environmental stewardship
Human habitats are undergoing complex change, affecting the well-being of people everywhere. How will real estate development take the lead in fostering healthy communities and environments?
Every real estate development represents an interface between shifting patterns of change in the natural and built environments, and their impact on human health. According to the World Health Organization, 25 percent of all diseases globally in 2020 are attributable to the built environment. At the same time, the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that the built environment is responsible for 75 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Uncertainty and risk in these areas will only increase in the coming decades. But there is also vast potential for positive transformation
The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2030, the built and natural environments will be transformed to enable people to lead healthier lives and develop to their maximum potential in a truly inclusive way.
Green standards for construction and building performance, and healthy building certifications, provide a baseline for best practices. But owners need to go further than the fundamentals to create healthy, resilient, and resource-efficient developments, establish themselves as industry leaders, and tap into accelerating market demand for real estate that centers human well-being and environmental stewardship. WOWA’s expertise supports clients’ highest ambitions in this area.
Advancing architectural excellence
Architecture creates the physical environment for people’s lives, from the day-to-day to the extraordinary. How will leaders in real estate development activate the potential of excellence in design?
The real estate sector underinvests in design. According to IBISWorld, 3 percent of the $10 trillion invested globally in shaping the built environment in 2020 was spent on architectural services. In an industry whose products last a lifetime or longer, a lack of architectural ambition can compromise value, producing buildings that perform poorly, make people sick, degrade the environment, and soon become obsolete.
Market leaders in consumer goods, healthcare, and technology, by contrast, recognize both the process of human-centered design and its outcomes as sources of innovation and competitive advantage. Similarly, 85 percent of people polled on behalf of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (United Kingdom) in 2002 agreed that the quality of the built environment has positive influences on the quality of daily life, and a majority believed that well-designed architecture enhances professional productivity, educational attainment, physical well-being, levels of safety, and real estate values.
Architects’ vision, creativity, design thinking, listening, and problem-solving abilities are an invaluable resource for real estate development, but advancing architectural excellence through human-centered design starts with the owner’s commitment.
Those who lead the way will advance their long-term business interests and their public legacies. WOWA’s high-level, international experience in architectural practice helps clients make the most of extraordinary collaborations.