Looking back at the year we are about to end, I won’t repeat the ubiquitous platitudes about the pandemic. Let me just say: who could have thought a year ago that the most frequently used phrases in our conversations would become ‘you’re on mute!’ and ‘can you see my screen?’?
Work life adaptations, perseverance in working from home, and flexibility in collaborating with team members and clients on-line: those were major factors in keeping our business going in 2020. Thank you for that! (…)
Looking ahead at the world around us, our first hope is of course a rapid containment of the pandemic, allowing us to go back to a more normal social and work life. Beyond that, however, looms the crisis that makes Covid-19, however terrible to many of us, a walk in the park: climate change. Dangerous flooding and droughts, sea level rise, food shortages, massive population shifts (…) are some of the impacts of temperature rise. What will happen in this arena? On the one hand, there are worrisome signs of non-sustainable investments, e.g. in coal power, intended to revive economies after the Covid crisis. (…) On the other hand, there is good news from the sustainable front: solar electricity costs have fallen 80% in 10 years; wind costs are down around 60%, and batteries are 85% cheaper. The transition to a zero-carbon economy will require a huge investment over the next 30 years, but in relative terms that will only be 1.5% of the size of the global economy (1.5% of global GDP). And that can easily be financed as long-term interest rates are negative.
We have an important role to play here as a firm. That role is to be at the forefront of designing energy-conserving technologies. We are here to inspire and help our clients invest wisely in smart, low-energy solutions. We are here to play a key role in creating pleasant, healthy, and efficient buildings and facilities. And, as we have done for decades, to help innovate and disseminate new technologies.
Here is an example of our active innovation role: our involvement in research to reduce the energy need of data management, with the ultimate goal of realizing energy-neutral datacenters. We participate in a research programme at the University of Twente (Netherlands), working together with top researchers in the field of new materials, AI solutions, photonics and neuromorphic computing. We are part of a network of scientists and industrial partners building a pilot plant on the campus of that university. There the latest developments in research can be tested and refined, bringing them to proven application level. See this link to University of Twente and our related LinkedIn post.
So there is plenty of work to do for us. With the increasing role of technology in the built environment this will only continue to grow, in all our major segments – from Health Care to Data Centres, from Airports and Real Estate to CleanTech.
First, however, the time now comes to relax a bit. Whether in lock-down or not, enjoy some well-deserved rest. Stay healthy so we can see each other again early next year.
Jan Karel Mak
CEO Deerns Group